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Soybean group moves ahead with proposed $500 million project south of Mitchell

A rendering of the proposed soybean plant south of Mitchell.
KFI Engineering
South Dakota Soybean Processors
A rendering of the proposed soybean plant south of Mitchell.

South Dakota Soybean Processors is continuing with plans to build its biggest processing facility yet — a $500 million plant near Mitchell that recently received a permit from Davison County.

The new plant will be the company’s third, adding to its main location in Volga and its facility near Miller. The Mitchell plant will also have the highest production capacity of the three, being able to take in 100,000 bushels of soybeans a day compared to Volga’s 85,000 and Miller’s 15,000. It will also be able to process sunflowers.

Construction is scheduled to start in 2023, and the plant could be operating by 2025.

According to South Dakota Soybean Processors CEO Tom Kersting, the company has had its eyes on a location in Mitchell for a while.

“Mitchell is good from a competitive standpoint against other facilities that are out there already,” Kersting said.

The new plant will be located two miles south of Interstate 90 and along a BNSF rail line, connections that Kersting said are important for receiving soybeans and sunflowers.

South Dakota Soybean Processors is expecting the plant to add 75 jobs in the Mitchell area and another 10 at the company’s headquarters in Volga. While the budget for the project is $500 million, Kersting said the company has prepared for inflation and supply chain issues to change the final cost.

“It’s hard to get folks to lock down on prices, you know, a year or two years out,” Kersting said.

The Davison County Commission unanimously approved a conditional-use permit for the facility at its July 12 meeting.

According to consultant Kyle Peters of A1 Development Solutions, the development group that South Dakota Soybean Processors hired for the project, the biggest concern people raised was how the plant would impact traffic and road conditions on Highway 37.

The South Dakota Department of Transportation is conducting a traffic safety study for the proposed plant, and South Dakota Soybean Processors says it will make the changes the study recommends.

Another concern residents expressed was the noise and smell the plant would create. Peters said the company was transparent about those effects during public meetings.

“Is there smell? Is there noise? Yes,” Peters said. “We're not going to tell you that there's not going to be, but it's definitely not as much as one would think.”

Many community members spoke in favor of the project, especially farmers. Some of the positive impacts they talked about were the jobs the plant would bring and how producing soybeans locally would benefit the town’s economy.

Andrew Kronaizl is a senior at Augustana University. He is from Vermillion, SD, and is based out of SDPB's Sioux Falls studio.