US grain handling company Perdue AgriBusiness has opened a US$60M soyabean processing plant in Bainbridge, Pennsylvania, the state’s first large-scale commercial facility of its kind.

The plant – with 1.5M bushels of storage capacity – would receive, dry, store, ship and process soyabeans from the local region, reported World Grain on 26 September.

Out of the US$60M invested in the plant by Perdue, US$8.75M came from Pennsylvania’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) grant as part of its standard economic development portfolio.

“This plant is a game changer for farmers in Pennsylvania, opening new lanes of supply, new markets and new opportunities in the commonwealth’s agriculture economy,” said Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf at the plant’s opening ceremony.

Russell Redding, Pennsylvania’s agriculture secretary, said the plant would create new demand for Pennsylvanian soyabeans, provide greater marketing options and offer close-to-home supply of processed soyabean meal for feed production.

Perdue intended to process up to 17.5M bushels of soyabeans annually at the facility, which it said would eliminate the need the transport both raw material and finished product over long distances, cutting both costs and soya production’s environmental footprint.

According to the company, Pennsylvania produced 29.6M bushels of soyabeans annually, but it consumed more than 44M bushels of soyabean meal with only 10-12M bushels of beans processed within the state, leading to a significant transport burden.

By locating the processing facility closer to farmer, Perdue hoped to eliminate long distance transport of the beans and meal, bringing economic benefits to farmers while reducing environmental impacts.

Additionally, the plant would use waste steam from Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority’s (LCSWMA) Lancaster waste-to-energy plant to heat its grain dryers, which – coupled with the reduced need for transport – would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 72% or equal to emissions from 6,300 homes annually.

Perdue currently operated several grain receiving and storage facilities in Pennsylvania that purchased US$148M worth of local grain and other products.