One day after the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a record-breaking year for expected U.S. soybean acreage, Monsanto Company (NYSE: MON) welcomed guests to the future home of the company's Asgrow® soybean seed production facility in West Fargo, N.D., to celebrate the groundbreaking for a multi-million dollar facility expansion.
The site had previously been a sunflower seed production facility. With the sale of Monsanto's sunflower business to Syngenta in August 2009, the site is now being converted and expanded to support Monsanto's growing soybean business.
"We've worked hard to create the kind of business climate in North Dakota that would attract new companies, including value-added agricultural operations," said North Dakota Gov. John Hoeven. "Today, we welcome Monsanto's Asgrow seeds. As the largest soybean producing county in America, Cass is the right fit for Monsanto and the right fit for North Dakota."
Gov. Hoeven; North Dakota Sen. and Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Tim Flakoll; and West Fargo Mayor Rich Mattern participated in the ground breaking festivities alongside Monsanto Company officials.
"This site expansion is a critical part of our strategic direction as a seeds-and-traits business, but the real winners here are farmers, the community and the state of North Dakota," said Mark Martino, Monsanto's vice president of seeds and traits manufacturing. "It's an investment that enables farmers to have more choices of Asgrow® Genuity™ Roundup Ready 2 Yield® soybean seeds. In addition, it will mean millions of dollars in capital upgrades at the site and new jobs for the community."
North Dakota and the Red River Valley are important soybean sales and production regions for Monsanto. North Dakota is the ninth-largest state by planted soybean acreage at around 4 million acres. In addition, four of the top 20 U.S. soybean-producing counties are located in North Dakota.
To support this market and Monsanto's anticipated growth in the area, the company expects to contract with more than 80 production growers within a 100 mile radius of Fargo. That economic impact to local farmers producing soybeans for Monsanto is approximately $20 million annually, and this is expected to grow as Monsanto soybean sales grow.
The expansion is expected to provide dozens of construction jobs, and once complete, will mean an additional 20 full-time and temporary employees at the location. The expansion is expected to be complete in December 2010.
The expansion will showcase the latest technologies in soybean seed processing, designed to deliver Asgrow customers consistent, high performance year after year. Jerry Devore, Asgrow marketing manager, said, "In conversations with our customers, they have told us that the main benefit they are looking for in soybean seeds is higher yield. This new facility will help answer that demand by using the latest in plant breeding and biotechnology, packaging and seed treatments to deliver soybean seeds that will give farmers in maturity groups 00 and 0 the best opportunity to achieve top-end yields."
The community has benefitted from expansion beyond new jobs and construction. Earlier this year, Monsanto donated a greenhouse that had been on site to a local garden society in Fargo. The Northern Plains Botanic Garden Society will use the greenhouse for a new botanical garden that it is developing. In addition, Monsanto had purchased $20,000 worth of straw last fall for use at the construction site. The straw will be donated and reused at North Dakota State University for use as cattle bedding.
Monsanto is a strong supporter, supplier and production partner with North Dakota agriculture. In fact, operations in Cass County and Glyndon, Minn., have a history dating back several decades, and Monsanto's current investment reemphasizes this commitment to the Eastern North Dakota and Western Minnesota region.