Sask. canola crush goal has long way to go

The doubling of Richardson’s plant could see province crushing 50 percent of its canola, while the target is 75 percent

Saskatchewan’s canola crushing goal will still be a long way from being realized after Richardson International doubles the capacity of its facility in Yorkton.

The province has set a target of crushing three-quarters of all the canola produced in the province by 2030.

It is one of the 30 goals set out in the Saskatchewan’s Growth Plan document that was released in 2019.

Existing plants in the province owned and operated by Richardson, Cargill, Louis Dreyfus and Bunge have a combined 4.2 million tonnes of annual crush capacity.

Saskatchewan farmers harvested 10.2 tonnes of canola last year, so those plants are crushing 41 percent of the crop.

Once the Richardson expansion is complete in 2024 there will be 5.3 million tonnes of crush capacity.

Assuming production rises a little by then, crushers will be processing about half of the crop.

That is a far cry from the government target of crushing 75 percent of the crop by 2030. That would take another three plants the size of the one Richardson is building in Yorkton.

Is that feasible?

“I sure hope so,” said Saskatchewan agriculture minister David Marit.

“When you have a company like (Richardson) doing what they’re doing, I would have to think that other companies are having thoughts of the same thing.”

He quickly added that he is not aware of any other crush projects being planned for the province.

There have been two recent announcements of proposed renewable diesel projects planned for Regina and Estevan. Both of those plants would have the potential to lure additional crush capacity if they are constructed.

“I’m hopeful that other companies globally will look at Saskatchewan and what we’re doing here,” said Marit.

He said the province’s role in attracting these types of projects is to create an attractive value-added investment climate and he believes that has been accomplished.

“You will see that there are some very aggressive incentives to encourage companies to want to come here,” said the minister.

But he thinks the biggest reason companies are building these types of plants in the province is because Saskatchewan is the greatest source of the raw material they need to fuel their processing plants.

That is why Saskatchewan has also established a goal of processing 50 percent of all the pulse crops produced in the province by 2030, up from 10 percent in 2020.

Marit doesn’t think the needle has moved very far on that objective yet but he noted that plant protein has become a buzzword in the agriculture industry and no crops have more protein than pulses.

He said the scale of a pulse protein plant might be 100,000 tonnes of capacity compared to one million tonnes for a canola crush facility, but that’s still taking 3.6 million bushels off of the rail system.

Any time you can move a commodity by truck instead of rail it does wonders for the economics all the way along the supply chain, he added.

“It puts money in the pockets of farmers up front where they’re not having to rail their production out,” said Marit.

The facilities also create jobs in the province and generate tax revenue that can be spent on schools, hospitals and senior’s homes, he said.

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