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ITHACA, MI -- Just weeks after Zeeland Farm Services Inc. celebrated the 20th anniversary of Michigan’s first soybean processing plant, its affiliate, ZFS Ithaca, LLC, is announcing plans for a second, larger facility – a major new investment designed to expand capacity to serve Michigan agriculture.

“We are not building and sizing the facility for today, but for tomorrow. This is a long-term, 40 or 50 year investment in Michigan agriculture,” said Cliff Meeuwsen, president of ZFS Ithaca, LLC. “We are building a legacy plant that will fulfill all of Michigan’s soybean processing needs for decades.”

To be constructed on a 435-acre site in Ithaca, Mich., the new facility will initially include grain receiving and storage, soybean processing and feed ingredients transloading. It will be sized to meet the soy processing and soybean meal needs in Michigan for the next generation and beyond.

The plant and the necessary infrastructure represent a significant investment in the community by ZFS Ithaca, LLC. The project is expected to create approximately 75 full-time jobs and will help bring roadway and utility upgrades to aid in future development in Gratiot County. Construction is slated to start in late 2016, with operations expected to begin in late 2018 or 2019. The project is contingent on permits, incentives and other customary approvals.

“This announcement is the latest example of the leadership and vision ZFS has always offered Michigan agriculture.  Their commitment to growth and providing services and opportunities to Michigan farmers and businesses is well known, and their investment in Ithaca reflects that commitment,” said Jim Byrum, president of the Michigan Agri-Business Association. “Just like the first soy processing plant in Zeeland that has been in operation for two decades, the new facility in Ithaca will boost local soybean prices for Michigan farmers, serve as a convenient, reliable source of soybean meal and hulls for livestock producers and allow Michigan’s agriculture sector to tap into growing markets at home and abroad for soy products.”

More than two years in the planning, the ZFS Ithaca plant will be capable of processing more than 40 million bushels of soybeans annually. It will increase the total soy processing capacity in Michigan to more than 50 million bushels per year.

“The Michigan Soybean Promotion Committee and Michigan Soybean Association are excited to have been a part of Zeeland Farm Services’ growth for more than two decades and are pleased to see the Ithaca soybean processing plant coming closer to being a reality,” said Gail Frahm, MSPC executive director. “Livestock, poultry and aquaculture farmers will greatly benefit from having additional Michigan-grown soybean meal available to their industries. Also, soybean farmers will enjoy additional opportunities to provide soybean oil for the human consumption and industrial use markets. This processing plant is a win for everyone involved. "

Throughout the planning and development of the project, ZFS Ithaca, LLC has enjoyed its partnerships with Greater Gratiot Development, Inc., the City of Ithaca, Gratiot County, Gratiot Country Road Commission, Michigan Department of Transportation, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and Michigan Economic Development Corp. Their assistance has been instrumental in moving the project forward.

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