The Farmers Oilseed Cooperative, Inc. (FOC) — a proposed “new generation” co-op to be located in southeast Georgia — continues to sell stock to help establish and construct a $66 million processing facility.

The cooperative currently is making plans to build a multi-crop crushing facility in Claxton, Ga. The plant will crush oilseeds from canola, soybeans, peanuts and sunflowers.

“It won't pay off overnight, but in the long-term, Southeast farmers could benefit greatly from it,” says FOC President Ben Deal. Deal, a diversified row-crop farmer from Appling County, has been involved with the FOC from the beginning and plans to grow soybeans and canola for the cooperative.

To join the FOC, a farmer must purchase one share of common stock for $500. This is the voting stock and gives each member one vote on all issues brought before the membership. This common stock money is being used to fund the start-up costs of running the cooperative.

Two types of stock are available — Class A preferred stock and Class B investor stock. A minimum purchase of 2,500 shares will be offered at an initial price of $2.45 per share. Additional shares can be purchased in multiples of 250 shares.

Each member will be responsible for delivering 50 pounds of oilseed for each share they hold. Shareholders will not be tied to one specific commodity.

Class B investment stock is available to people who would like to invest in the oilseed project but are not oilseed producers. No voting privilege comes with the purchase of this stock. A dividend of up to 8 percent can be paid based upon the profits of the co-op. The price of this stock is $1,000 per share.

“Typically, new generation cooperative stock will double or triple in value during the first five years of operation,” says Deal.

To help determine the amount of stock farmers need to purchase, a spreadsheet has been developed to help with the calculation. The spreadsheet can be accessed at www.farmersoilseed.com.

The oil crushing facility planned by the FOC will be the largest “switch” plant in the Southeast. Although it will be considered a small crushing facility in today's oil-crushing market.

Initial plans call for the crushing of four oilseeds — canola, soybeans, peanuts and sunflowers. The majority of the plant's crushing business is expected to be from canola and soybeans, with a limited amount of sunflowers and peanuts being processed.

The design of the crushing plant will allow for 900 tons per day of soybeans and 700 tons per day of canola to be processed. The plant is designed to run 24 hours per day, seven days per week.

The latest technology will be incorporated in the plant design. It will have dual extraction methods, one from a “natural” means and the other by hexane, the industry norm. Once the oil is separated, a 300-ton-per-day refinery will give the FOC the ability to refine the oil to various degrees, according to the needs of customers.

The refinery and other parts of the facility will operate on a five-day-per-week schedule, with two shifts per day. Once the oil is refined, it will be packaged into containers from 12 ounces up to 35-pound drums. A distribution area also will be built on-site to process and deliver customer orders.

Commodity deliveries will be made either by rail or truck. A rail spur will be built at the site to allow for ease of transporting large quantities of commodities. Adequate truck access also will be built into the site. Product distribution will be handled by these same facilities.

Unlike crushing facilities that handle only one commodity, FOC will have the ability to crush multiple oilseeds and maintain the identity of these products. The plant will be engineered so it can change quickly from one commodity to another with a minimum amount of down time and cross contamination.

Instead of having a few very large storage bins, the FOC plant will have several smaller bins that can be used to store a commodity that has special value or to preserve the identity. FOC also will attempt to design the plant so it can be easily expanded.

e-mail: phollis@primediabusiness.com