Despite construction being “slightly behind” schedule, Zeeland Farm Services Inc. expects full operation of its new Ithaca soybean processing facility to come online in September 2019, according to President Cliff Meeuwsen.
The Zeeland-based soybean processor is investing $130 million to build the new plant along M-127, about 45 miles north of Lansing. The new facility will allow Zeeland Farm Services to process more than 40 million bushels of soybeans annually.
“It’s behind where we’d like to see it,” Meeuwsen told MiBiz. “The issues have been regulatory issues, construction issues — that plant has a lot of water in it. The water table is pretty high, and it’s higher than we expected.”
According to Meeuwsen, about 160 people are working to build out the Ithaca plant. He added the site’s grain elevator should be ready to take grain next March, with soybean processing capabilities ready by September 2019.
ZFS Ithaca LLC is located on a 435- acre site, where the company expects to create 75 jobs. According to Meeuwsen, Zeeland Farm Services currently employs roughly 500 people, up from 400 employees a couple of years ago.
The company originally purchased the Ithaca 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.
“Ithaca will provide a major market for soybeans in central Michigan,” Meeuwsen told MiBiz when the project was announced. “It will provide a major supply of energy products to the feed industry. On one hand, it will give the farmer more motivation to grow soybeans because he’ll make better money. On the other hand, it will lower the cost of protein and energy to the livestock producer and thus help them be more competitive.”