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South Dakota’s Gain, Manitoba’s Loss: Glanbia Moves Flaxseed Plant to Sioux Falls

Thank goodness that flaxseed plant burned down in Angusville, Manitoba! Angusville is an eight-street bump in the road that's part of the rural municipality of Silver Creek, population 483. The nearest "big" towns are a couple of Flandreau-sized burgs about 50 miles away. The flaxseed processing plant there employed 58 people until it burned to the ground in March.

The plant was built by local grain farmers Glenn and Linda Pizzey in 1997. The operation expanded continuously until 2007, when the Pizzeys sold the facility to Glanbia Nutritionals, Inc., an Irish dairy and food ingredients supplier. After this year's fire, Glanbia looked around decided to move the operation a thousand klicks south to Sioux Falls.

Riding Mountain MLA (that's a Manitoba legislator) Leanne Rowat says Glanbia's abandonment of the Angusville area will be "devastating." Glanbia says it was a "very difficult decision, given our longstanding relationship with the community." Glanbia is offering to relocate willing Angusville employees and give severance packages to those who don't care to emigrate to the last industrialized nation without a civilized national health insurance program.

Glanbia says it's coming to Sioux Falls because of "its proximity to the Canadian Flax growing region, its transportation infrastructure, convenience and support from state and local leaders." Support... can we get a list of the tax breaks now, Dennis?

Glanbia is already posting job notices. According to KELO, the Sioux Falls Glanbia plant will employ 38 people when it opens in July 2013. (38? Wait a minute: Angusville had 58...?)

Here's a promo from Glanbia discussing their micronutrient premixes, which they say are everywhere:

I'm not fooled by those pretty colors at timemark 1:10—they're making Soylent Green!

Production note: according to the USDA, in 2011, flaxseed was the lowest-dollar crop in South Dakota. Maybe farmers around Sioux Falls can add flax to their rotation, improve their soil quality, and make a buck or two off a new local flax buyer!

But remember: whatever gains South Dakota can make from Glanbia's move come at the expense of folks in rural Manitoba. Glanbia's move is another example of how states (and provinces!) play a zero-sum-or-less game when they compete to lure businesses with tax breaks and other "support."


  1. Charlie Hoffman 2012.11.28

    There is a farmer who lives North of Watertown who uses flax in the rotation and during the summer driving South along I-29 early morning that big beautiful field of glowing blue ocean colored flax is the most amazing sight a farmer can imagine. (Next to a sea of sunflowers in full bloom that is!) We live in one of the most diverse and beautiful places in the world and farmers and ranchers longevity depends on making sure the land is fertile and their animals healthy. Flax will become a larger player once Glanbia is built and we in the Northern Plains can grow flax very well.

  2. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.11.28

    Holy cow: flax can improve soil quality and prairie aesthetics? Neat!

  3. larry kurtz 2012.11.28

    Flax works best when fields are burned after harvest: North Dakota does it every year.

  4. Charlie Hoffman 2012.11.28

    Larry we can bale it up and turn it into cellulosic ethanol or paper products.

  5. larry kurtz 2012.11.28

    Burning diesel fuel to make ethanol? Why?

  6. Charlie Hoffman 2012.11.28

    Really it's just burning palm fronds and fish poop Larry!!

  7. larry kurtz 2012.11.28

    Why is the 'Farm' bill only for commodities, Charlie?

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