Hemp processor American Harvest is working on a new location in Sidney in the former Chaznline office on Highway 16 North. Richland Economic Development (RED) discussed the new business during the regular meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 11.

“American Harvest is the industrial hemp processor that is establishing itself in Richland County,” Leslie Messer, RED executive director, said. “We were included in a great conversation on a conference call back on Aug. 23.”

That call included the governor’s office, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Montana Department of Environmental Quality, economic development and American Harvest Government Affairs Liaison Kathy McLane.

“They were basically introducing the study about the new processor. They are going to be taking the hemp and processing it and taking the oil out of it and then using the fiber to do various things,” Messer said.

During building renovation, American Harvest is waiting on their license from the state. Currently, the department of agriculture is responsible for the licensing and regulations, Messer said. American Harvest is expecting the license to come this month.

“If you remember when we had the MonDak Ag Days, the department of ag actually came in and talked about hemp and how important it is to get the certified seed, which all comes out of Canada,” Messer said. “The national level doesn’t have a policy on how to handle and manage this particular product. There’s a stall there, but the state of Montana wrote a policy on how to manage this and sent it up to the mothership and they are still debating.”

Construction on the building will include modifications to the facility, security fence encompassing the property, new cooling system and installing food-grade equipment.

“One of things they are most excited about is they can make concrete blocks with this fiber,” Messer said.

The new processing plant is looking to provide around 20 jobs to start in the area and once the plant is up and running, up to around 70 jobs. Messer said the plant is currently serviced by Lower Yellowstone Rural Electric Cooperative and are researching possible solar providers as well.

In other news

Katie Dasinger, program director for RED, reported eight new people attended the Sidney Young Professionals meeting in August. SYP is currently in early planning stages for the 2021 Montana Young Professionals Summit in Sidney and enlisted the help of Brian McGinnis for a drone-footage promotional video of the area with the tagline, “See you in Sidney.” Dasinger said she hopes the video will be able to serve multiple groups in the area with bids for other conventions.

Sugar beets are on everyone’s mind this fall. David Garland, general manager of Sidney Sugars, said harvest begins Sept. 24 and campaign begins Sept. 26. Garland met with Montana Department of Transportation and Knife River reps to discuss the ongoing construction on East Holly and the effect it will have on beet harvest. Knife River and MDT agreed to have the corner by Blue Rock cleared for trucks, although it likely will not be paved.

Richland County Commissioner Shane Gorder reported library construction was on schedule, although this week did cause some rain delays.

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