ENID, Okla. —
Enid has been chosen as the site of a new canola plant, and company officials are reaching out to Enid and area residents to make use of the plant for storage.
“We want to engage with the agriculture community, elevator managers and grain dealers, especially reference the canola plant,” said Neil Juhnke, president of Northstar Agriculture, which owns the plant. Juhnke hopes the area will develop up to one to two million acres of canola in the area.
A rising star
Northstar is owned by PICO Industries, which is the major investor. Northstar Founders group owns 12 percent of the plant. The original group is from North Dakota and South Dakota. PICO invited the Northstar Founders to invest, and they are asking Oklahoma farmers and ranchers to also consider investing, as well.
The plant in Enid will be the company’s second; Northstar also has a canola plant in Minnesota. Juhnke said there are between 12 and 14 canola processing plants operated by companies in the United States and Canada, and that number is growing.
He said canola is growing in popularity because its main product, canola oil, is healthy: It is low in saturated fat and even lowers the risk of cancer, according to some recent studies. Some large cities in California and New York passed ordinances banning trans fats — which contribute to heart disease — in foods, helping bring about the growth of canola oil in cooking.
“It’s driven by health,” Juhnke said.
Water, water everywhere ...
Designed as a low water consumption plant, projections are it will use 500,000 gallons of water per day and return 100,000 gallons of wastewater.
The plant also will manufacture dry product and have an oil seed process.
Enid was selected primarily because of its proximity to the majority of canola production in the area. That area extends into Kansas and southwest Oklahoma. A secondary reason is water availability in the area.
“Outside of Oklahoma City not many communities have it,” Juhnke said.
Another reason is Enid’s access to transportation, the Burlington Northern Santa Fe main rail line.
The city of Enid passed a tax increment finance district to help plant construction, which Juhnke said “leveled the playing field.”