SDSU officials hope soybean council will help pay for $30 million bio-processing institute

Capitol News Bureau

CORRECTION: The 1990 federal farm bill included a provision that superseded South Dakota’s law and made the checkoff fee non-refundable. The story has been changed to reflect that.

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Daniel Scholl asked the South Dakota Soybean Council on Tuesday for financial contributions to a bio-products institute that South Dakota State University plans in the Brookings research park.

Scholl, the university’s vice president for research and economic development, said the $30 million project needs $10 million more for construction, as well as about $2.7 million more per year for the estimated $3.2 million annual operating costs.

The Legislature earlier this year appropriated $20 million for construction and committed $500,000 annually for operation, according to Scholl.

He said the university intends to apply this week for a $2.5 million grant from the U.S. Economic Development Agency that requires a 20% match.

“It would be wonderful if the council could be involved in that,” he said.

Asked whether he would be seeking other funding from the soybean council for operating the institute, Scholl indicated he would be back. He is trying to raise money from other groups too.

The timeline calls for the institute to be running in 2026. The plan calls for the institute to be built in the research park, rather than on the SDSU campus, so that scientists from SDSU and South Dakota School of Mines and from the private sector could work on projects.

“It will be very business-leaning, if you will,” Scholl said. He described it as a potential “one-stop shop” for businesses.

The emphasis at this time is on animal prebiotics and probiotics and on bio-based polymers that are degradable such as construction and landscape films, packaging and containers.

“I see unlimited growth potential for this,” said Mark Sandager. He is development director for the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences at the SDSU Foundation. “We’re doubling down on what this state is for.”

Council chairman Tim Ostrem of Centerville and executive director Jerry Schmitz said a decision would be made at a future meeting.

The council operates under the South Dakota Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources. The council is funded through a federal checkoff fee of one-half of 1% of the net market price of soybeans at the time of sale. The council receives and spends millions of dollars each year.

Shrimp-food producer Prairie AquaTech built next to the South Dakota Soybean Processors plant at Volga east of Brookings.

Schmitz said the costs for developing Prairie AquaTech were “tremendous.” Scholl said the company could have done scale-up research through the bio innovation center rather than renting time in other lab facilities.

“I don’t know how much money that would have saved. It certainly would have saved time,” Scholl said.

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