Northeast’s leading organic soybean processor expanding operations to meet strong demand
Published: June 9, 2021
Category: Organic News
By Joe Sylvester
Boyd Station, a Pennsylvania-based processor of organic soybeans, is expanding this year with a $2.6 million grant from the state to help meet strong demand for its organic soybean oil and meal.
The grant will be used to improve rail access at the company’s soybean processing facility, and allow Boyd Station to handle increased carloads and unit trains that will take 25,000 trucks off of the highways over the next five years.
It also will create 30 full-time jobs at the Northumberland County business, said company president Bryan Cotner.
The approximately 30 new jobs will support the existing 50 employees currently employed at Boyd Station.
Boyd Station will construct four new tracks and install unloading equipment beginning this spring. Completion of the construction project is expected by the fall.
Cotner said the expansion will help the company’s core mission of strengthening Pennsylvania agriculture.
More specifically, it will support the growth of organic poultry, egg and food production in Central Pennsylvania.
“The real driver for the expansion and growth we see at Boyd Station is the organic poultry market,” he said. “We’re a big part of that.”
He said the majority of organic poultry consumed in the United States comes from this region.
Boyd Station processes organic soybeans into feed and food commodities.
The feed commodities are sold to Pennsylvania feed mills, while the food commodities—primarily organic vegetable oils—are sold to food manufacturers and food distributors throughout the country, Cotner said.
“We’re the only natural organic vegetable oil refinery in the Northeast United States,” he said.
Cotner, his brother Russ, who is the company’s chief operating officer, their sister, Shannon Shultz, and their father, Don, are co-owners of the business that lies on 85 acres of former farmland that they leased.
“Our family has been involved in agriculture in Danville since before 1912,” Bryan Cotner said. “The company started in 2002. That year we purchased approximately 20 acres.”
According to Danville historian Sis Hause, the property was given to Hannah Montgomery, daughter of Danville’s namesake, Gen. Daniel Montgomery, as a gift when she married John C. Boyd, who operated a farm and grist mill on the property.
Service across country
The Cotner family started the business after looking for ways to control the feed costs for its egg-producing hens on its Rush Township egg farm.
Boyd Station contracts directly with farmers throughout the country.
“Having the rail line here will bring in organic products,” said Russ Cotner.
Bryan Cotner said the company refines organic oil from soy beans and canola and sunflower seeds and sells them to food manufacturers, mostly producers of salad dressings and sauces. It produces protein meals that go out as animal feed.
He said the company grew with the organic market.
“In 2015, we built a dedicated organic oil seed crush plant, or oil seed processing plant,” Bryan Cotner said, noting it was one of the first in the country. “In 2018, we built a dedicated organic oil refinery, high capacity, extremely high quality.”
He said there previously hadn’t been any in eastern United States.
“It was always a natural process,” Russ Cotner said. “We never used solvents or chemicals.”
The plant uses the mechanical crushing method to extract the oil.
Bryan Cotner said some processors use the chemical hexane, which is similar to gasoline to separate the oil from the seed. But sometimes there is a residue of hexane left in the final product.
“We will never introduce that kind of chemical to the food supply,” he said.
“The only ingredient is the oil from the seed,” Russ Cotner said.
“We have a lot of confidence in the organic market,” Bryan Cotner said.
Boyd Station purchases organic soy beans and other seeds from hundreds of farms throughout the country, Bryan said.
One of the storage bins on the property, a huge 75-foot-high metal bin used to store soy beans, can hold up to 320,000 bushels, he said.
The company also has a conventional section for processing non-organic soy beans. He said 100 percent of those crops are produced locally.
Reprinted with permission from The Daily Item
Organic & Non-GMO Insights June 2021