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Feasibility study to determine constructing safflower refinery plant in McKenzie County

Submitted Photo Safflower Technologies International is studying the feasibility of establishing a safflower refinery plant in McKenzie County. In North Dakota, safflower acreage has been concentrated in the western part of the state, according to NDSU Extension.

WATFORD CITY – McKenzie County Job Development Authority recently awarded funds to Safflower Technologies International for help in undertaking a feasibility study for a safflower refinery plant to be located in the Watford City area, according to Daniel Stenberg of the Job Development Authority.

Stenberg said the local Job Development Authority is continuing to look for ways to diversify the local economy and add value to crops that local farmers are growing.

According to NDSU Extension, Safflower (Carthamus tinctorious L.) is an annual oilseed crop adapted primarily to the cereal grain areas of the western Great Plains. In North Dakota, safflower has been grown in experimental test plots since 1928 and on a commercial basis since 1957. Acreage has been concentrated in the western part of the state. Safflower is well-adapted to western North Dakota and South Dakota, as well as eastern Montana. Safflower provides three principal products: oil, meal and birdseed.

Paige Brummund, Ward County agriculture and natural resources Extension agent said, to her knowledge, there is no safflower acreage in Ward County. If a safflower refinery is established in the Watford City area, she said there might be interest in safflower acreage in this area.

USDA Farm Service Agency in Ward County confirmed there is no safflower acreage in the county and has not been any since about 20 years ago.

Jerald Bergman, of Williston, is in charge of research and development for Safflower Technologies International. He is handling the proposed safflower refinery project. STI is headquartered in Laurel, Mont.

He said McKenzie County Job Development Authority provided $8,000 to STI to undertake the feasibility study. After the study is completed, another $8,000 would come from the county.

Bergman developed Healthola safflower oil, a natural, non-GMO safflower released by Montana State University.

He said on July 1 that they are starting the feasibility study in the next 30 days. It will be about four months to complete, Bergman said. He said the feasibility study will include visiting existing refineries as well as getting costs for equipment and operating costs.

The company has an elevator and seed cleaning facility in Fairview, Mont. The proposal is to build a safflower refinery on the North Dakota side in McKenzie County.

If the project is determined feasible, Bergman said it will expand the markets.

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