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New Vision Co-op's Magnolia feed mill to open

MAGNOLIA -- New Vision Cooperative's nearly $17 million new feed mill will open later this week west of Magnolia to serve customers in a 150-mile radius.

New Vision's General Manager Frank McDowell, said there were several small details that needed to be completed late last week, with dry and liquid ingredients slated to arrive today through Wednesday. The first batches of feed will be made Thursday and Friday.

The new Magnolia mill is the fifth feed mill for New Vision. Others are located in Mankato, Courtland, Windom and Worthington.

"We've been operating Lismore's (feed mill) with the merger between Lismore and Adrian, but we'll take Lismore out of service within the next 60 days," McDowell said. "It's a wood mill and it's kind of served its purpose and done its duty."

The need for additional feed milling capacity was evident in the mid-2000s, he said, adding that the cooperative's feed business has seen steady, stable growth over the years.

"We knew, at some point, we'd be sold out of capacity," he said.

In 2006, the cooperative board began the process of finding a site for a new feed mill, seeking out land with access to good roads and a "welcoming neighborhood," he said.

"Corn is 75 to 80 percent of these rations, so you want a supply of high quality corn," McDowell explained. "Magnolia fit the bill."

New Vision purchased land west of Magnolia in 2007, but it wasn't until 2009 that talks began on the design for the new feed mill, and another two years after that before the design was ready and a contractor was selected.

In February 2012, Younglove Construction of Sioux City, Iowa, was awarded the bid as the general contractor for the feed mill project, and ground was broken in May 2012.

"It's a significant statement to area livestock producers that New Vision is committed to the feed business," McDowell said. "There's a lot of potential feed growth for the business ... and it should take some production pressure off of Windom and Worthington, which has been a good thing for employees who have been under a lot of stress the last four years."

McDowell said the process of making feed is analogous to making cookies -- it's a recipe that varies depending on what the farmer is feeding, from swine to dairy, beef cattle or poultry.

"It's a recipe you follow to build a complete ration to help that cow produce milk or beef cattle to grow or poultry to produce eggs," he said. "Some of these recipes have 30 to 40 ingredients and some have eight to 10 ingredients."

Each farmer requires a different recipe, depending on what they are feeding and what their animals require for nutrition.

"There's 3,200 different rations that we manage," McDowell said, adding that the market often dictates the type and quantity of feed used in a ration. If the price of soybean meal rises too high, another product can be used instead to keep the cost somewhat consistent.

While corn is the most-used ingredient in a ration, McDowell said they will also have soybean meal and dried distiller's grains, in addition to a large assortment of mineral additives and health maintenance products.

The New Vision feed mill at Magnolia employs 16 individuals, with seven working on-site and the other nine working as feed truck and feed ingredient drivers. McDowell said employee payroll and benefits exceeds $1 million.

A USDA Rural Development low-interest loan of $740,000 was received by the cooperative to assist in financing the construction project. The 10-year loan is administered by Lismore Telephone Cooperative, which will retain the 1 percent interest paid on the loan to expand its revolving loan fund.

Daily Globe Reporter Julie Buntjer may be reached at 376-7330.

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at

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