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New Hastings, Neb., processing facility to pull in pulse crops from four states
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New Hastings, Neb., processing facility to pull in pulse crops from four states

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Columbia Grain is preparing this facility in Hastings, Neb., to accept pulse crops this spring. Company officials said the rise in pulse acres across Nebraska, Kansas, South Dakota and Colorado prompted them take interest in the location.

With demand for shelf-stable foods growing and acres of pulse crops increasing across the Midwest, a grain company is opening a new processing facility in southern Nebraska. 

Columbia Grain International is preparing for a spring 2021 opening of a pulse processing facility in Hastings, Nebraska, offering a consistent 365-day-a-year marketing opportunity for farmers in four surrounding states.

CGI is repurposing a building in Hastings where they will produce a small-pack pulse line. Farmers can deliver their harvested pulse crops including dried legumes, peas, lentils, chickpeas and dried beans.

Two factors contributed to the plans to re-purpose the Nebraska building for pulse products.

“We saw a rise in pulse acres in Nebraska, Kansas, South Dakota and Colorado over the past five years,” said Tony Roelofs, CGI’s vice president of the pulse division based in Portland, Oregon. “We saw a number of producers working those crops as a good alternative in dry areas, and in fallow land, and we’ve seen that acreage grow there.”

There are areas in those Plains states where conditions are not conducive to growing row crops such as corn and soybeans.

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The Columbia Grain pulse plant in Hastings, Neb., will have a capacity of 286,000 bushels with a 60,000 square foot processing building. CGI anticipates processing over 50,000 metric tons of pulses per year.

“Pulses work really well in rotation with wheat,” Roelofs said. “It regenerates the soil in rotation with wheat, and Hastings gives those farmers a market.”

CGI buys the crops from farmers, then the company cleans and sells the product to user markets or edible markets.

The Hastings building, which has been at the site for over a decade, previously housed edible soybeans. This is the first pulse facility in Nebraska, which is served by both the BNSF and the Union Pacific railroad lines, providing access to markets domestically and worldwide.

For farmers interested in taking harvested pulse crops to the Hastings, Nebraska facility, CGI’s Marvin Fast works with farmers near and far, and various trucking outfits to assist in delivery to accommodate getting their crops to the plant. Interested farmers can contact Marvin Fast directly at CGI at 402-463-8162 for delivery and FOB bids, trucking costs and interest in planting pulse crops.

Farmers can truck the harvested crops to Hastings themselves, or Fast would arrange for a truck to pick up the crop and bring to the Hastings facility.

The Hastings building has a capacity of 286,000 bushels with a 60,000 square foot processing building. CGI anticipates processing over 50,000 metric tons of pulses per year there.

“With the expansion of acres in this area over the last five years, Hastings, Nebraska will give both CGI and local producers a great opportunity to expand into this area and bring further value to local pulse growers,” said Jeff Van Pevenage, president and CEO of Columbia Grain International, in a statement.

CGI has nine other pulse processing facilities where they produce edible beans and pulses in Washington state, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho and North Dakota. CGI supplies bulk grain, pulses, edible beans, oilseeds - both conventional and organic - worldwide.

The company saw a surge in demand for shelf-stable food and beans when COVID-19 hit.

“We continue to see growth in plant-based proteins, and we continue to see a bright future for pulses,” Roelofs said.

CGI is also an owner of Montana Specialty Mills, operating an organic and non-GMO oilseed crushing facility in Great Falls, Montana, a mustard seed facility in Conrad, Montana, and most recently Montana Craft Malt, providing specialty malt barley from Montana farmers for craft brewing.

Amy Hadachek is a freelance journalist, a two-time Emmy Award winning meteorologist and a storm chaser who earned her NWA and AMS Broadcast Meteorology Seals of Approval. She and her husband live on a diversified farm in Kansas. Reach her at editorial@midwestmessenger.com.

Amy Hadachek can be reached at editorial@midwestmessenger.com.  

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Reporter Amy Hadachek is a two-time Emmy Award winning meteorologist and a storm chaser. She and her husband live on a diversified farm in Kansas. Reach her at amy.hadachek@midwestmessenger.com.

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