Posted November 3, 2004 (BUSINESS WIRE): The
market for organic flaxseed in Iowa just got a major
boost from a joint effort between a California cooking
oil and dietary supplement manufacturer, an enterprising
Iowan couple and a shrinking Midwestern town.
The nation's leading organic culinary oil and essential
fatty acid (EFA) dietary supplement manufacturer, Spectrum
Organic Products Inc., announced a major commitment
to and investment in a new Iowa-based future in flaxseed
farming and processing. Spectrum will be opening what
the company believes is the world's largest production
facility dedicated to organic, plant-based EFA oils.
The facility will be opened in partnership with Mark
and Julie Schuett, owners of BIOWA Nutraceuticals, an
Iowa-based company that already processes organic soybean
oil for processed food manufacturers.
It's a classic "back-to-the-future" business
scenario with flaxseed formerly a top crop in Iowa five
generations ago. Today, a handful of farmers are growing
flax again due to successful organic agricultural research
trials conducted at Iowa State University last spring
but Spectrum hopes the new plant, which has the capacity
to produce 60 tons of flaxseed oil daily, and the growing
popularity for the heart-healthy oil will drive the
number into the hundreds over the next decade. The Schuetts,
who will be responsible for the plant’s operation,
are already working to line up around 2,500 acres of
flax for next year, the Sioux City Journal reported.
"We view this as a perfect marriage of agriculture
and manufacturing," Neil Blomquist, CEO/president
of Spectrum, said. "We're Californians partnering
with native Iowan farmers and businesspeople. We all
ardently believe this investment is planting a new sustainable
economy for the future."
By relocating the company's 15-year-old processing
operations to the Midwest, Spectrum is bringing new
opportunities not only to the farm community but also
to Cherokee County, which recorded the fourth largest
population drop in Iowa since the last census, according
to the Journal. The facility was courted heavily by
both the Schuetts, who promised to have the plant operational
by this fall and the County itself which petitioned
the state for a zoning exception that qualified the
new facility for tax credits and other incentives. In
addition, Mark Schuett, president of BIOWA Nutraceuticals
and an electrical engineer, oversaw construction of
the new plant.
In return Spectrum currently employs nine people at
the plant, has plans to double that number, and intends
to pay an estimated 50 percent premium to flax farmers
who convert to certified organic practices. At current
market prices farmers could expect to get roughly $17
to $19 per bushel, according to the Journal report.
The new $4 million, 10,000-square-foot plant was opened
Tuesday, Oct. 12, after a ribbon-cutting ceremony featuring
keynote speaker Iowa Lieutenant Governor Sally Pederson.
"Governor Vilsack and I have worked throughout
our time in office to promote additional opportunities
for value-added agriculture in Iowa as a way to boost
incomes for Iowa farmers and to strengthen Iowa's rural
communities," Pederson said. "This new investment
from Spectrum Organic Products supports a special niche
in Iowa agriculture that has been identified as having
strong potential to grow."
Moving the production facility to the Midwest will
enable Spectrum and BIOWA Nutraceuticals to work directly
with local farmers, including partnering test plots
for new flaxseed varieties.
Iowa is one of the top five organic research states
in the country, according to Organic Farming Research
Foundation's (OFRF) "State of the States"
2001 report, with Iowa State University taking a lead
in organic agricultural research and education. Iowa
boasts 402 certified organic farms representing sales
of $13.3 million and more than 79,000 organic acres,
according to the 2002 USDA Census of Agriculture and
Bob Scowcroft, executive director of OFRF, attended
Tuesday's ribbon-cutting ceremony to accept a $5,000
contribution from Spectrum to support further farm-based
research on organic practices. "More organic research
means better organic farmers," Scowcroft said.
"Building an organic infrastructure translates
into added value for farmers and keeps organic jobs
Most flaxseed today is purchased out of Canada or offshore,
creating a fossil fuel-dependent distribution system.
Spectrum and BIOWA believe their Midwest-based operation
will reduce transportation time and costs, making for
both an environmental and economic win-win.
"''State of the art' is an abused term in manufacturing
today,” Mark Schuett said about the new facility,
“but this plant more than lives up to this claim
in the realm of plant-based oil processing."