GREAT FALLS – About two years ago, the old oilseed processing facility in Great Falls was tore down, which was located across the fairgrounds and had been there since the mid-1940s.
Then one year ago in August 2017, Columbia Grain International and Montana Specialty Mills broke ground to begin building a new oilseed processing facility at 5901 18th Avenue North.
The new facility will hold a greater capacity, processing about three times more compared to the old site and crushing from 200-300 tons per day.
In the facility, they expel oil from strictly non-GMO seeds, which includes: flaxseed, non-GMO conventional canola, and safflower seeds. They are also looking into other possibilities including sunflower seeds.
There will also be a refinery on site, which will take the seed from the field all the way to a table-ready product that will ship out across the United States to bottlers, salad dresser makers, etc.
The benefits this will bring to local farmers include: higher wheat deals, a new diverse crop to put in their rotation year after year, improve soil health, expand wheat control options, and they will have a higher economic return on their products.
Justin Hager, who is a merchandiser said, “It adds value to Montana farmers in the form of another valid market, they’re not having to ship their crops out of state or two states away, it’s all coming here to Great Falls to add value to it up the chain, and hopefully put more money in their pocket as well.”
The new facility will start the commissioning process in the middle of October and then will start the seed crushing production either by the end of December or the beginning of January. The new facility will run about 300 days a year and will add about another 15-20 jobs.
Reporting by Kasey Herman for MTN News