REGINA -- Saskatchewan canola producers are looking forward to two new canola plants planned for Regina, after announcements from Viterra and Cargill. 

Agriculture giant Viterra announced it intends to build a canola crush plant in Regina. With a capacity of 2.5 million metric tonnes, the plant is predicted to have the largest crush capacity in the world. The crushing plant will have access to the rail line and will employ 100 full time positions.

The plant will convert canola seed into both vegetable oil and meal, to be used for food and industrial purposes like renewable diesel. The project is currently finalizing the plants capabilities and design, and hopes to begin construction in 2022, with plans of beginning production in late 2024.

Viterra North America CEO Kyle Jeworski said capacity of the Regina plant will be greater than export markets like Japan or Mexico, which have a capacity of two million tonnes, making it the second largest export destination if it were a country.

“It’s going to have full vegetable refining capabilities. That allows it to be able to refine the oil to a food standard,” said Jeworski.

Last week Cargill also announced a new $350 million canola processing facility in Regina, with plans to be operational by early 2024. The plant will employ 50 full time positions once it is operating.

“It’s going to foster competition right across the province. It’s really a Saskatchewan success story, canola was developed here in the province,” said Todd Lewis, the president of the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan.

For some producers, the new plants mean a shorter hauling distance, which helps reduce costs and the impact on the environment.

Currently, the closest crush plants for south Saskatchewan farmers are in Yorkton and Harrowby, Manitoba. There are also plants in Clavet and Lethbridge, Alberta.

“As a young Saskatchewan farmer, this is really good news for us,” Moosomin-area farmer Steven Donald said. “We’ve got the two Yorkton plants, but still, even having them in Regina, two plants, that’s excellent.”

According to Jeworski, Viterra’s domestic canola crushing industry is essentially running at full capacity, so more facilities are needed.

Lewis said canola is a consistent product with great oil content, which is why demand continues to grow. He said having more refining locations in Canada also means less of a reliance on exports.