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Published June 24, 2012, 09:24 PM

$160 million canola crushing plant now open in Hallock

Hallock, MN (WDAY TV) -- After a year and a half of construction, a new 160-million dollar canola crushing plant near Hallock, Minnesota is now open.

By: David Schwab, WDAZ, WDAY

Hallock, MN (WDAY TV) -- After a year and a half of construction, a new $160 million canola crushing plant near Hallock, Minnesota is now open.

With an estimated payroll of three and a half million dollars a year the plant is good news to the area. The town has dealt with people moving away the past couple of decades.

Production is ramping up here at the new Northstar Agri canola crushing plant as more and more trucks are rolling in. This month the operation just south of Hallock, Minnesota became fully operational.

Neil Juhnke - Northstar Agri President: "That is what we do is crush and refine canola oil. "

The new plant has the apacity to process 1000 tons of canola seed per day producing food grade refined canola oil, which is known as heart healthy vegetable oil, used in growing number of products.

Neil Juhnke : "Any thing from ranch dressing to salad dressings to prepared foods."

The product is also used in fast food restaurants to make french fries, and can also be used as a bio-fuel. Northstar Agri commodities manager David Holzwarth says demand for the oil is high.

Dave Holzwarth / Commodities Manager : " So we sell out 30 - 60 days ahead of when this stuff is even produced, or the seed is even bought at times."

The plant also is a welcome sight for this part of Northwestern Minnesota, which has seen a decline in population over the years. The operation employs 50 people with wages ranging from 15 to 22 dollars an hour.

Matt : "30 some of them are for operations. We have people for maintenance for office and administration."

Company officials say Hallock was a near perfect location to build. First, because canola is a crop that can be easily grown here and secondly, it's logistics to utilities.

Neil Juhnke : "Neil : "We have the Burlington Northern mainline just out the back door here, we have highway 75, we have an adequate rural water system, and natural gas pipe lines. "

Northstar Agri officials expect to see an big bump in the number of acres of canola planted in the area over the next few years.

A community wide grand opening event at the canola crushing plant is planned for this summer on August 8th.

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