Rendering of soy processing plant near Alta in Buena Vi

This artist's rendering shows plans for a soybean processing plant being built near Shell Rock. A similar facility is being planned in Buena Vista County near the town of Alta with intentions for it to be online by March, 2024.

New soybean processing plant could mean more value for Iowa soybeans

September 30, 2021 | Kriss Nelson

Pending local and state approvals, a new soybean processing plant near Alta in Buena Vista County could increase demand for homegrown soybeans.

Development partners Mike Kinley and Nick Bowdish have joined forces to develop Platinum Crush, LLC, a modern soybean processing facility in the state. If the plant received the green light, it would be the second modern processing facility in the state. Currently, Shell Rock Soy Processing (SRSP) is under construction in Butler County.

Kinley, managing member of Ag Development Group LLC, which develops value-added projects for the ag sector, is also leading the development of the Shell Rock plant. He said the addition of Platinum Crush to the Alta area will bring more opportunities for farmers to market their soybeans in northwest Iowa.

“They could deliver to their local elevator or to a soy processing plant. On average, the nearest one for producers in Buena Vista County is about 65 miles away,” said Kinley. “They have to drive quite a ways and wait in line.”

Jeff Frank, at-large director for the Iowa Soybean Association and producer from Auburn in neighboring Sac County labels the proposed Platinum Crush plant as a “positive.”

“Anytime we can use soybeans at home, it is better than shipping them away,” said Frank. “We have a use for the meal with Iowa’s livestock industry, and the soy oil might get shipped away for renewable diesel. The more crush plants we can get in Iowa, the better off we are. We are going to use more soybeans, and that is a great thing.”

The lack of modern soybean processing plants in Iowa is the driving factor behind both SRSP and Platinum Crush.

“Soybean crushing is a consolidated market, and producers need more options,” Kinley said. “Farmers also need to be able to get in and out of these facilities quicker. Spending a lot of time in line at any processor – whether that be corn or soybeans – costs a lot of money.”

The state-of-the-art Platinum Crush facility will have the ability to empty a semi-load of soybeans in approximately two minutes.

“We will be able to receive beans at 60,000 bushels an hour – that’s 60 semis an hour,” Kinley said. “This will benefit both farmers that deliver direct and elevators that bring it in.”

Not only will Platinum Crush create a new market for soybeans in that area, but it’s expected to bring a higher cash value for soybeans delivered to the plant.

Platinum Crush creates jobs

Platinum Crush will have the ability to crush close to 40 million bushels of soybeans per year. This will require nearly 640,000 acres of soybeans from Buena Vista County and surrounding counties.

“That is an area of the soy production where you see an ample supply of soybeans,” Kinley said.

By crushing 40 million bushels of soybeans, he projects that Platinum Crush will produce close to 900,000 tons of soybean meal and about 470 million pounds of crude soybean oil per day, along with 77,000 tons of pelleted soybean hulls per year.

Plans call for enough storage on-site to hold 1.5 months’ worth of soybeans to crush, which is about 4.5 million bushels of storage.

Platinum Crush is also expected to employ 50 people.

Frank said the new soybean processing plant will be beneficial for everyone – not just soybean farmers.

“It’s good for the economy all the way around for Iowa, and it will create more jobs in Buena Vista County,” Frank said. “It’s positive anytime you can help these small communities grow.”

Capturing value locally for soy oil, meal

Soybean oil from Platinum Crush can be used for a variety of applications, including the human food industry and the rapidly expanding renewable diesel segment of the bioenergy sector.

Soybean meal and hulls, which contain highly digestible fiber, will be used in livestock rations.

“Historically, 50% of the soybeans we grow in the U.S. are exported out of the country to get crushed elsewhere,” said Kinley. “Let’s step this crush up and export meal, instead of soybeans, to China.”

The Canadian National (CN) Railway will help ship the soy meal and soy oil from Platinum Crush to various destinations.

“CN is pleased to see the next world-class soybean crush plant select our network to move value-added agricultural products to consumers all around the globe,” said James Cairns, senior vice president, rail centric supply chain for CN Railway. “We are excited about the opportunity to make this facility a reality in northwest Iowa.”

Next Steps

Platinum Crush LLC is a soybean processing plant slated to be online by March of 2024

Platinum Crush will cost approximately $350 million to build. A vote to approve local zoning for the facility is scheduled for next week.

Once that is accomplished, engineering will be finalized, and permits will be submitted to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. Then project leaders will begin raising equity investment capital and hope to have the plant operational by the spring of 2024.

Frank is hopeful the zoning process is completed soon.

“Anytime we can use what we grow, it’s great for us,” he said. “That’s what soybean farmers are all about. That’s what the Iowa Soybean Association is about. We’re driven to deliver, so let’s deliver.”