A large-scale soybean processing plant in Pennsylvania has opened despite fears about possible air pollution.
Gov. Tom Wolf was among those on hand Monday, Sept. 25, for the opening of the $60 million Perdue Agribusiness plant.
The facility has faced opposition over emissions of a federally designated hazardous air pollutant, which regulators say can eventually cause central nervous system issues.
But state regulators signed off on the plant last year, saying it will operate under the most restrictive state and federal limits.
Officials say the facility will create 35 local jobs and will more than double the state’s soybean processing capacity.
Farmers in the state produced almost 30 million bushels of soybeans in 2014, but most producers previously had to transport their crops to processing plants outside Pennsylvania.
“This plant is a game changer for farmers in Pennsylvania, opening new lanes of supply, new markets, and new opportunities in the commonwealth’s agriculture economy,” Wolf said. “My administration is committed to making sure that the agriculture economy is strong, and working for our commonwealth’s farm families and businesses.”
Purdue Agribusiness received an $8.75 million Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grant from the commonwealth, which spurred an investment in Pennsylvania’s economy of more than six times that amount. It will continue to pay off in the form of new jobs and expanded market opportunities for area soybean growers and livestock farmers.
“This plant builds on Perdue’s investment in Pennsylvania and our commitment to Pennsylvania farmers,” said Perdue Farms Chairman Jim Perdue. “It also sets a new standard in terms of community investment, economic potential and environmental gains. We truly appreciate all of the support we received from the governor and his entire administration to get this project up and running. This plant demonstrates our shared commitment to ensure agriculture remains strong and farmers have every advantage they need to remain competitive.”
The $60 million facility has the capacity to process 17.5 million bushels of soybeans per year, producing soybean meal and oil that is then sold as animal feed ingredients and as inputs for food processors, among other uses.
“When the state committed to this project, it did so because we recognized the opportunities it held for Pennsylvania’s farmers,” said Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding. “This plant is going to create new demand for soybeans grown here, and it’s going to help existing growers get a better price because they won’t have to ship their beans out of state, and it’s going to offer another close-to-home option for processed soybean meal they can use to feed their animals.”
The new plant is strategically located in the heart of Pennsylvania’s richest agricultural region, within 50 miles of seven of the top 10 soybean-producing counties in the state. Pennsylvania farmers produced 29.6 million bushels of soybeans in 2014, and consumed 44 million bushels of soybean meal.