Kandiyohi County catches attention of international hemp processor interested in possible expansion

A Netherlands-based business is looking to build a hemp processing facility in Kandiyohi County or the region. There could also be an opportunity for farmers to plant a hemp crop this season for the company.

A stand of industrial hemp
An industrial hemp company from the Netherlands could have its eyes set on Kandiyohi County as it expands its North American business. Industrial hemp has a variety of uses from human consumption to building materials and clothes.
Contributed / Minnesota Department of Agriculture

WILLMAR — Learning about and expanding the reach of industrial hemp has been a priority for the Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission Agriculture and Renewable Energy Committee for several years. At the committee's most recent meeting on Jan. 19, it was announced that hard work might be paying off in a big way.

A hemp company based in the Netherlands could be interested in constructing a hemp processing plant in Kandiyohi or Renville counties, as well as offering farmers the opportunity to grow hemp for the company. While the EDC's Sarah Swedburg would not name the business, the Dutch company Dun Agro is in the process of constructing its North American headquarters and first processing facilities in Indiana .

"They currently have this kind of facility in the Netherlands and have successfully operated it for many, many years," said Swedburg, EDC business development manager.

Professional portrait of Sarah Swedburg, business development manager for the Kandiyohi County and city of Willmar Economic Development Commission
Sarah Swedburg

According to Swedburg, the company is looking to build a 300,000-square-foot processing facility on approximately 40 acres for a capital investment of between $40 million and $50 million. The potential facility would not bring a lot of jobs, but Swedburg didn't think that was a bad thing.

"I don't think it's terrible to see a large capital investment that doesn't need 300 people to run a facility," Swedburg said.


A location for the proposed facility is still unknown, though the committee said it would probably be outside of a city. Hemp processing can be very dusty, so it's important to find a good location that won't negatively impact neighbors. Electricity is also a big player in hemp processing and will need to be considered when finding a location.

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EDC staff and committee members have met with representatives from the business and said the discussions have been positive.

"It was a great meeting," Swedburg said. "We were able to show the company what the community has to offer and what some of the benefits being in this area are."

The EDC is working with the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute to put together a request for proposals to complete a feasibility study for this kind of facility. The ag committee has wanted to do a hemp feasibility study for some time.

"It is easier to find some funds and it is easier to find people who can put together the right feasibility study for us when we have that end user in mind," Swedburg said.

Prior to building a facility, the company is also interested in finding land to grow hemp, maybe as soon as this growing season. Swedburg said the business is looking for about 100 acres to grow and harvest hemp, probably to see how the crop grows in Minnesota.

"They want to start building up that farmer base and the interest to grow hemp here as they work toward a facility," Swedburg said.

The EDC is helping the company get in touch with a few different farmers. The company will probably just want one or two large chunks of land instead of several smaller parcels.


"They would need someone to seed it," Swedburg said. "They would bring their equipment up to harvest it."

There were some questions from the committee on whether the public would be surprised or concerned if they saw a huge field of hemp plants growing. It could be a learning experience though, another way to educate the public on the difference between industrial hemp and marijuana.

Shelby Lindrud is a reporter with the West Central Tribune of Willmar. Her focus areas are arts and entertainment, agriculture, features writing and the Kandiyohi County Board.

She can be reached via email or direct 320-214-4373.

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