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$55 million facility: Co-op picks Claxton for oilseed plant

Claxton, Ga. — most famously known as the “Fruit Cake Capital of the World” — has been chosen as the site of a proposed $55 million oilseed processing plant, to be constructed by Georgia's new Farmers Oilseed Cooperative, Inc,. (FOC). The plant will crush soybeans, canola and possibly some peanuts and sunflower seed for oils and other products.

The FOC site selection committee had considered other potential sites in Alamo, Baxley and Cordele before choosing Claxton.

This past summer, the committee met with representatives of eight communities before narrowing their list of candidates for the plant, which will employ 55 to 60 people.

“This was one of the major steps we needed to take,” says Billy Wayne Sellers, southeast Georgia farmer and president of the year-old co-op. “The biggest thing was their low millage rate. They had a good package.”

Railroad and interstate highway connections also figured into the decision. The 80-acre plant site in Evans County is not expected to need much preparation to accommodate the new building, according to FOC officials.

The co-op will work to develop delivery points using existing grain elevators in areas remote from the plant. This way, growers who are located away from the plant won't have far to truck their corps. The co-op's Number One priority now is to sell production shares to farmers, says George Shumaker, University of Georgia Extension economist who has advised the co-op throughout its development.

Building the plant and beginning operations will require between 750 and 800 shareholders with average commitments of 275 acres each to the co-op. Minimum investments will be 1,500 shares at $2.25 per share.

FOC officials are planning to begin selling the stock during the fall and winter production meetings. Two types of shares will be offered. Class A shares will be production stock for farmers, committing them to grow oilseed crops for the co-op and committing the co-op to buy from the farmers. Class B shares will be offered to investors.

Co-op shareholders should receive a premium for their crop, says Shumaker, and farmers will own the product until it arrives on grocery store shelves.

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