Room and Reason to Grow

Already one of the more impressive facilities within the Port District, Monsanto’s Luling plant will undergo a massive expansion over the next three years, creating jobs for locals and products to aid food producers.

The Monsanto facility near the Port of South Louisiana is set to grow, thus preventing harmful weeds from threatening the bottom line of America’s farmers.

Earlier this Spring government leaders and Monsanto executives, among other civic officials, formally announced firm plans to build a $975 million expansion of the company’s existing plant in Luling. The new addition will support Monsanto’s launch of its Roundup Ready Xtend Crop System and “enable the company to deliver a strong dicamba formulation pipeline to growers and further strengthen its integrated solutions platform.” The engineering phase of the project began in the late summer.

Dicamba is an herbicide that is designed to manage weeds (especially broadleaf weeds) and help farmers maximize yield potentials in crops like soybeans and cotton. When the Monsanto expansion is complete in 2019 and fully-operational in 2020, the Luling facility is expected to supply 25 to 35 percent of the demand for dicamba-based weed killer. When the Roundup Ready Xtend Crop System launch is complete, Monsanto predicts it will be used across 250 acres of farmland throughout North America and South America.

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“With more than 60 years of commitment to the Luling community, we are proud to move forward with this facility expansion and play a role in the economic well-being of Southern Louisiana,” Monsanto president/COO Brett Begemann said when the project was finalized. “Our Luling facility’s unique geographic location within our manufacturing network will help provide our farmer customers across the Americas with better access to a critical weed management tool.”

Currently, the Monsanto Luling plant employs close to 700 full-time workers, a number that was boosted back in 2010 when the company last expanded the facility. That add-on – which came with a $196 million price tag – enabled Monsanto to up production of its Roundup brand herbicide by 20 percent. In that expansion, Monsanto replaced old boilers and installed a hydrogen recovery project to lessen the energy consumed and the pollution emitted from the plant. The Luling site also upped its storage capacity, built a new river dock, and constructed a new rail system.

This latest expansion will create roughly 120 new jobs at the Luling site, averaging more than $75,000 in annual salary. Beyond that, the Louisiana Economic Development predicts the larger facility will produce four times as many indirect jobs in the state. And, during the building process — which is expected to commence in January 2017 — more than 1,000 skilled construction workers will be hired to erect the structure and make it operational.

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Discussions about the expansion began roughly 18 months ago between Monsanto brass and members of the Louisiana Economic Development’s Business Expansion and Retention Group. Since it chose to expand within the state, and because of its investment in rail and electrical infrastructure, Monsanto is eligible for several performance-based incentives, such as the Modernization Tax Credit, the Louisiana Quality Jobs and Industrial Tax Exemption and an Economic Development Award Program grant.

“Agribusiness and chemistry represent two of the most important business sectors in our state, and this major manufacturing investment by Monsanto strengthens each of these key industries,” says Gov. John Bel Edwards. “We’re encouraged by Monsanto’s vote of confidence in Louisiana as a great place to do business and a vital part of its manufacturing operations. Above all, we’re delighted that hundreds of existing jobs will be secured by this expansion and that we will grow the workforce of Monsanto with new career opportunities for more Louisiana families.

“Along the way, we will be supporting farmers across the state and our nation with products made here in St. Charles Parish.”
By William Kalec

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