ZEELAND — Zeeland Farm Services Inc. plans to invest $130 million into a new soybean processing facility in Ithaca, 45 miles north of Lansing.
The new facility, which will do business under ZFS Ithaca LLC, will be located on a 435-acre site along M-127 and will include soybean processing for livestock and soybean oil, grain receiving, storage, feed loading and other capabilities.
“This new plant represents a long-term investment in Michigan agriculture,” said Cliff Meeuwsen, president of Zeeland Farm Services during a press conference this morning. “It’s a facility that will serve the community for 40 to 50 years and beyond. We’re not just building it for today, we’re building it for farm use for many years going forward.”
The expansion will increase Zeeland Farm Services soybean processing capability to 50 million bushels annually when the new facility is operating at full production. ZFS currently processes approximately 10 million bushels of soybeans at its Zeeland location.
The company plans to add approximately 75 jobs to its 425-person workforce as a result of the expansion.
Zeeland Farm Services originally purchased the site in 2014. It had been slated to be an ethanol processing plant before the project was abandoned by Liberty Renewable Fuels in 2008, according to reports.
Despite reports from farmers concerned about falling commodity prices, Zeeland Farm Services maintains that the investment will service Michigan farmers and food processors into the future.
“I wouldn’t say that the current state of commodity prices in the different sectors of agriculture was really a factor that could sway us either way,” said Brian Terborg, CFO of Zeeland Farm Services. “We are really looking at this as a long-term perspective and we believe in the future of Michigan agribusiness in general, and in particular, growing soybeans and feeding soybean meal to livestock — we think (that) has a very bright future.”
The new processing facility could actually help bolster prices for soybeans in the state, said Jim Byrum, president of the Michigan Agri-Business Association.
“This is a game-changer for soybean prices all across the state,” Byrum said. “The basis spread between the Chicago Board and what’s paid at Country Elevators will shrink dramatically with this plant in place. That means that farmers will get more per bushel of soybeans — that’s a huge win.”