The $1.2-million BCCA Mill and Cube plant is the culmination of six years of planning. When it is fully operational, it should be capable of processing 50 tons of cottonseed a day, according to Co-op General Manager Aaron Salge.
“In one day, the plant will produce a little less than 45 tons of meal and five tons of oil,” Salge says. The meal will be shaped into cubes and sold as a feed supplement; the oil will be sold for further processing.
“That’s our goal, but we’re still adjusting the process,” explains Co-op board member Don Sugarek.
Much of the adjusting is because the plant equipment is used, purchased years ago from a plant in Sebastian. Some pieces were stored outside, subject to the adverse effect of the weather.
“It isn’t all new and shiny,” Co-op President Darby Salge told a crowd of more than 75 celebrating the plant’s grand opening, “but it works.”
The primary product, feed cubes for cattle, will comprise 90 percent of the plant’s product. The other 10 percent will be oil.
Each cube will consist of 26 percent protein, eight percent fat and 30 percent fibre, says Ben Mengers, who is in charge of the project.
The remaining 36 percent consists of crude fibre, ash, minerals and amino acid.
The plant will sell the feed cubes for $400 a ton.
Although the plant primarily is designed to process cottonseed, Sugarek says it also can handle soybeans, flax, sesame, canola and sunflower seeds.
“I’d love to see some local farmers start sunflower crops,” he says.
Which seed will dominate depends on market and commodity forces, Sugarek says.
Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples told the crowd that the plant is exactly what the state needs, for farmers to cooperate to find new sources of revenue for a business constantly under threat from the weather and a volatile economy.
The plant is a good risk, says J. Lindsey Green, president of Beeville’s First National Bank, which financed the plant.
“We’re still an agriculture community,” Green says. “We saw a need for this.”
Unexpectedly, during the catered lunch, the murmur of the crowd was overshadowed by three minutes of loud noise on the plant’s metal roof.
“Look at that,” one farmer said, “the Commissioner comes and it rains.”