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Monsanto Footprint in Nebraska About to Get Bigger

LINCOLN, Neb. -- Monsanto officials expect to have their new seed corn processing plant west of Utica on line in time for the 2009 harvest.

The new complex along U.S. 34 is part of an increasingly visible $155 million project in Nebraska that also includes a major expansion of a sister plant at Kearney.

Along with work on the Keystone petroleum pipeline a few miles to the east, and the expected July start on the new $42 million state fairgrounds to the west at Grand Island, the Monsanto agenda is another hedge against the worst of the recession gripping other states.

Tom Sckaffran, manager of the Monsanto site in York County, said there are still at least 300 construction workers moving toward the finish line on a job that includes eight buildings, among them a 180-foot-tall conditioning tower.

Much more important to the St. Louis-based Monsanto than the size of the construction payroll is getting past the wet conditions that slowed progress in 2008 to a degree of certainty about taking in corn this year.

"We still anticipate being able to receive our crop here in late August," Schaffran said.

Seed corn production has become a big part of the farm revenue picture in Nebraska since a 1988 drought farther east and the new sense of appreciation for the state's irrigation resources.

Over that same period of time, a series of biotechnology breakthroughs has endowed seed with insect resistance and herbicide tolerance.
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