Carman, MB – September 28, 2017 - In June of this year, Manitoba Pulse & Soybean Growers (MPSG) organized a seminar to deliver industry knowledge and expertise to groups interested in seeing a soybean crush facility built in Manitoba. This meeting brought together the Westman Group, agriculture consultant Mark Rowe and delegates from Manitoba Agriculture.
This recent burst of interest in local, value-added opportunities for soybean farmers from the private and public sectors is encouraging. It has pulled MPSG into a largely public conversation, drawing on the experience and expertise the association has developed from having worked on the soybean crush file since 2014, when it co-funded a feasibility study looking into the potential for such a plant in Manitoba.
In the interest of transparency surrounding the topic of such a facility, MPSG would like to inform its members that its involvement in these talks is solely focused on serving the best interests of the entire province’s soybean farmers.
“We represent farmers in western Manitoba, farmers in the east, farmers in the north and farmers in the south,” says MPSG Chair Jason Voth. “Soybean acres are increasing and prices are strong. The possibility of a crush plant is an encouraging topic and we’re working hard on the research and market development side to shed light on the correct path. MPSG is sitting at the soybean crush table to make sure the plant gets built in Manitoba. We are not here to choose a specific location or take sides. We are involved because we have a deep understanding of the subject matter and are happy to share it.”
MPSG’s mission is to provide research, production knowledge and market support to Manitoba pulse and soybean farmers. Discussions surrounding a soybean crush operation in Manitoba are important to MPSG. The association is taking them seriously, providing, as its mission states, market and industry-related expertise to the interested parties.
MPSG is neutral on the possible location for such a facility. The association acknowledges that for such a large, capital and capacity-heavy project to succeed, it must be built in the best place possible without any predetermination.
The hydro, wastewater and transportation demands of a successful soybean crush facility will be key factors for a company or group of investors to think about when considering the best possible site.
In the June meeting, Mr. Rowe provided the group with information for the group information on the costs of running such an operation, its energy demands and the high input and output volumes it would need to sustain in order to produce meal and oil on a profitable scale.
“Soybean acres have increased in Manitoba, and they are poised to keep increasing,” says MPSG’s Executive Director Francois Labelle. “Potential investors in such a facility have told us and others that they would need to see a high soybean acreage base sustained for three to five years before any decisions would be made. We’re not there yet, but we’re moving in the right direction.”
Some experts maintain that in order for such an operation to be sustainable, it would have to be a swing plant able to also crush canola. MPSG’s initial soybean crush plant feasibility study also concluded this.
Soybeans are crushed primarily into meal for the livestock industry. The by-product of this process is oil. Presently, there is not a strong local market for soybean oil, which is a significant roadblock when considering the viability of a crush plant.
MPSG has discussed this at length and will continue to work with others to help make the oil profitable.
MPSG is also helping pave the way for such a facility by funding research aimed at developing higher protein soybean varieties that won’t lag in yield. But these varieties are in-progress and years away from being market ready.
Western Canadian soybeans typically have lower protein levels than much of the soy grown in Ontario and the U.S. As such, our soybeans often need to be mixed and are often bought at a discount.
There are numerous policy issues, domestic and abroad, looming and actual, that are at play when determining the viability of a soy crush facility for Manitoba. MPSG is keeping an eye on these files and is working with others to make sure that Manitoba’s agricultural sector remains strong and competitive.
MPSG is optimistic about the possibility of a soybean crush plant coming up in Manitoba. And the association looks forward to its continued involvement in this process, conducting research, opening markets, delivering expertise and promoting ventures that will benefit all of Manitoba’s soybean and pulse farmers.
Manitoba Pulse & Soybean Growers (MPSG) is a non-profit, member-based corporation representing more than 4,000 farmers in Manitoba who grow pulses, including edible beans, peas, lentils, chickpeas, fababeans, and soybeans. MPSG provides Manitoba pulse grower members with production knowledge and market development support, through focused research, advocacy and linkages with industry partners.
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For more information, please contact:
Director of Communications
Manitoba Pulse & Soybean Growers
Francois Labelle, PAg
Manitoba Pulse & Soybean Growers
204-745-6488 (ext 2)