An agriculture technology company coming to Indiana aims to develop a new market for farm waste. The business plans to break ground this summer on its first U.S. location.
After operating a plant in France since 2016, Cormo USA, a joint venture founded in 2018 between Switzerland-based Cormo AG and Sustainable Projects Group Inc. based out of Florida, announced it will invest about $30 million in its new facility located Rushville. Once the operation is up and running, up to 250 jobs are anticpated to be created by the end of 2023.
The Switzerland-based company has created a way to turn corn stalks into a more sustainable alternative to peat moss. That matters, the company says, because harvesting the popular garden product releases so much carbon into the atmosphere the United Nations encourages alternatives.
Cormo USA Board President Stefan Muehlbauer says the plant in Indiana will be just a start to developing this emerging market.
“As we currently import all of our products that we use in the peat moss industry, those can be replaced easily by the available corn in the United States,” says Muehlbauer. “We found about 19 percent of the corn harvest waste in the United States, we would be able to turn from a 100 percent importer to a 100 percent exporter. Producing enough peat moss in the world to take over the entire market.”
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Indiana ranks fifth in the nation in corn for grain production. The company plans to process up to 150,000 acres of corn stalk at the new prodution facility. Indiana Farm Bureau public policy director, Katrina Hall, says with many farmers worried about international trade, this gives them a local market.
“I mean it doesn’t completely make up for the economic stress that farmers are experiencing right now, but it certainly is just one additional option in their toolbox,” says Hall.
The company will also be using the inside of the stalk to create a more environmentally-friendly air filter including those used in poultry-rearing houses to collect and remove ammonia in the air.
Muehlbauer says the company plans sell its products in the U.S. by late 2020. Cormo USA could receive up to $3.5 million in conditional tax credits from the state and potentially more incentives from the city of Rushville.