Weather, soil condition and labor are not the only big-ticket issues that are important to farmers.
Before they’ve harvested their crop, farmers need to know how much it’s worth.
They need to know where it’s going to be sold and how much money they likely profit from the deal.
And those who grow soy beans are no exception.
Currently, the state’s department of environmental protection is reviewing a permit application regarding Perdue AgriBusiness’ bid to build a soy bean crushing plant and grain elevator in Lancaster County.
On Wednesday, three representatives and/or consultants for the company stopped by the York Daily Record to chat about the project.
They came armed with facts and figures on soybean bushel counts, hexane and prevailing winds.
Evidently, Pennsylvania is a soybean deficient state.
In short, the state ships most of its soybean crop out of the state, despite its strong appetite for soybean meal.
Last year, the state produced 25 million bushels of soybeans, said Wayne Black of Perdue AgriBusiness.
Most of the crop was shipped out of the state to be processed into soybean meal, soybean hulls and soybean oil.
Meal and hulls add fiber to animal feed while the snack food industry makes use of the oil, Black said.
If approved by the state’s DEP, the plant would produce about 390,000 tons of soybean meal — a portion of the 1 million tons of meal consumed across the state each year, said Peter Heller, a project manager for Perdue.
“We are trying to provide an in-state source for soybean meal,” he said. “ We will pay higher prices for soybeans than the current market.”
Great news for soybean farmers, but what about the growing number of residents concerned about the plant’s emissions?
On either side of the Susquehanna River, people have raised concerns about how much hexane the plant will emit into the atmosphere.
Hexane, a compound used to extract oil from soybeans, can cause dizziness, nausea and headaches, according to the U.S. Department of Environmental Protection Agency’s website.
About half of the hexane projected to be emitted annually by the plant is considered to be a hazardous air pollutant, said Lisa Kasianowitz, a spokeswoman with the state Department of Environmental Protection, recently.
A recent study commissioned by Perdue found that, thanks to state-of-the-art emission control equipment, the hexane exposure levels originating from the proposed plant would fall below the most stringent federal standards.
Some residents and local public officials are worried that prevailing winds would carry the pollution into York County.
“You will find that the winds blow at York County from Lancaster County about 20 percent of the time,” Heller said. “The prevailing winds are from west to east.”