WEST FARGO, NORTH DAKOTA, U.S. — Cargill announced on Sept. 20 that it will rebuild and expand its oilseed processing plant in West Fargo, North Dakota, U.S. Completion of the engineering plans will determine the project's final costs, which are expected to total more than $50 million.

"The existing facility has served us well since we built it 30 years ago, and we are now looking at rebuilding it to meet the needs of our customers for the next 30 years," said Jaysen Schock, facility manager.

Construction is expected to start late fall 2011 with completion slated in time for the 2013 harvest.

"While the total number of full-time jobs of 83 may not change much after the rebuild, the project will keep the facility as a viable business many years ahead," Schock said. "The investment reflects the hard work of our West Fargo team and shows our commitment to the West Fargo area and our farmer and elevator suppliers."

The news has been well received by state and local officials. Governor Jack Dalrymple said that Cargill's "decision to rebuild and expand its West Fargo oilseed processing plant reaffirms the company's long-term commitment to North Dakota growers and the region's workforce."

He noted that Cargill currently employs about 530 people at five facilities throughout the state. "The company's expansion shows once again that a positive business climate is key to attracting and retaining business and in turn, growing our economy," Dalrymple said.

The facility processes canola and sunflower seeds into edible oil for food processing and foodservice businesses, flaxseed for linseed oil for industrial use, and protein meal for animal feed.

"Through this project, we will modestly increase sunflower and flaxseed processing, plus significantly increase our production of canola oil," Schock said.

Schock said the West Fargo facility plays a crucial role in the North American oilseed market, filling the need to supply customers with specialty products such as canola oil.