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Midwest soybean farmers to help pay for Pacific Northwest export terminal

Soybean meal market growing amid global push toward renewable energy

A field of soybean crops. (Photo: Shutterstock/Elena Pavlovich)

Several U.S. soybean producer groups are planning to help fund the construction of a Pacific Northwest terminal that would be used to ship soybean meal exports.

The Iowa Soybean Association, the Kansas Soybean Commission, the Nebraska Soybean Board, the North Dakota Soybean Council, the South Dakota Soybean Research and Promotion Council and the Soy Transportation Coalition say will they collectively provide $900,000 toward pre-engineering, design and site development costs for AG Processing’s terminal expansion and redevelopment at the Port of Grays Harbor in Aberdeen, Washington. 

Omaha, Nebraska-based AG Processing (AGP), a cooperative that owns and operates 10 soybean processing facilities in the Midwest, plans to expand the terminal’s export capacity from 3 million metric tons to 6 million metric tons. 

AGP announced its plans to expand the facility in March. The project entails the construction of additional storage at Terminal 2 and a new ship loader at Terminal 4. The project should be operational in 2025.

Alongside the expansion, the Port of Grays Harbor said it would expand rail infrastructure within the port complex so that it can accommodate the increased volume, and it would seek to mitigate surface transportation impacts to the local community. 

The port is located near Washington’s coastline, southwest of Seattle and Tacoma. Genesee & Wyoming’s Puget Sound and Pacific Railroad provides connections between the port and BNSF (NYSE: BRK.B) and Union Pacific (NYSE: UNP). 

Soybean oil is one of the primary feedstocks used to produce renewable energy, such as renewable diesel.

“With more future soybean processing in this country, farmers are very interested in opportunities to assist with the increased need for soybean meal export capacity,” Jonathan Miller, chairman of the Soy Transportation Coalition and a Kentucky soybean farmer, said in a news release. “The more we can export a higher value product, like soybean meal, farmers will benefit.”

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. soybean meal exports totaled 12 million metric tons in 2021, with an export value of $5.58 billion. The top five soybean meal markets for the U.S. are the Philippines, Canada, Mexico, Colombia and Ecuador. 

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Joanna Marsh

Joanna is a Washington, DC-based writer covering the freight railroad industry. She has worked for Argus Media as a contributing reporter for Argus Rail Business and as a market reporter for Argus Coal Daily.