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Major soybean production plant coming to Southeast Missouri

Cargill Incorporated, one of the world’s largest agricultural processing companies, has announced plans for a soybean processing plant in Pemiscot County near Caruthersville. The plant will be the “first of its kind” in Southeast Missouri according to a press release from the Missouri Soybean Association.

The plant, slated to open its doors in 2026, will have an annual production capacity of 62 million bushels of soybeans, according to a press release from the Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council (MSMC).

Southeast Missouri is the state’s largest regional producer of soybeans. Cargill’s plant will provide 45 new jobs to the area once it opens.

The company was unable to provide exact wage offerings due to “competitive reasons” according to Bridget Christenson, media relations director for Cargill.

The company guaranteed to pay “more than double” the county average in an email exchange with the Missouri Times. The current average hourly wage of Pemiscot county is $15.30, according to a 2020 report by the Missouri Economic Research Center.

Gary Wheeler, CEO and executive director of the Missouri Soybean Association (MSA), sees the Cargill plant as a major investment in Missouri’s agricultural economy.

“The dividend (of past Cargill projects) has been, you know, 10 times of what the investment has been,” Wheeler said. “Cargill has been a great partner with Missouri soybean farmers. And it’s been proven four or five times over the past 20 years. And that’s the reason why we’re excited to have Cargill.”

Cargill currently employs nearly 1,200 people in Missouri across nine locations.

Pemiscot county was chosen as the preferred location for a soybean crush plant after about a year of research, Wheeler said. The access to railways, the Mississippi River, and two interstates made the area an attractive choice for the plant, as Cargill specializes in receiving, processing and shipping agricultural products.

Wheeler added that the new plant will help Missouri strengthen both the state and national supply chains for soybean products and oil; as well as providing a healthier market for soybean farmers both in Southeast Missouri and the surrounding states.

“We did research … specifically with the University of Missouri. How can we add value to a bushel of beans before it leaves the borders of Missouri?” Wheeler said. “We wanted to make sure that domestic use was priority number one, that’s where we went with it.”

“And that’s what’s important for the farmers down there. To add additional competition for the sale of their bushel of beans,” Wheeler added.

Additional competition will ideally increase revenue for farmers in the area, Wheeler said.

The project is receiving state assistance through the Missouri Works program, which is designed to provide tax incentives to businesses looking to create jobs in Missouri.

Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe worked alongside the MSA during the process of securing the Cargill plant.

“This facility will support family farms and efforts to source more quality products from right here in Missouri,” Kehoe said in a press release. “I’m grateful to Cargill and all those who worked together to make this project a reality, and am confident it will benefit Missourians for years to come.”

The MSA is currently “aggressively” pursuing two more areas to build agricultural processing plants, Wheeler said. Specifics about such plans were confidential and could not be shared with The Missouri Times as of Wednesday afternoon.