BASF completes $270 million expansion of Beaumont facility, launches new product
A new multimillion-dollar investment by BASF will provide an herbicidal solution for crop growers and, at the same time, contribute to the economic development of Southeast Texas.
Tuesday, March 21, BASF held a ribbon cutting to announce completion of the expansion of its Beaumont facility, the only dicamba manufacturing facility in the U.S.
Dicamba, an herbicide that controls annual and perennial rose weeds in grain crops and highlands, is used to control brush and bracken in pastures, as well as legumes and cacti. It kills broadleaf weeds before and after they sprout.
Beaumont Mayor Becky Ames, Port Arthur Mayor Derrick Freeman and Jefferson County Judge Jeff Branick were among those in attendance at the March 21 celebration, which was held on National Ag Day.
The Beaumont site received more than $270 million in capital improvements in the last three years, making it BASF’s largest agricultural products facility investment in company history.
“This is the largest investment in the BASF Crop Protection facility,” said Deborah Dalley, site director at BASF Beaumont. “We have dedicated more than 1 million man hours to safely construct this project. We’ve actually installed 320 tons of concrete, 208 pieces of equipment and 6 miles of pipe and 64 miles of cable. … We’re opening up a new era for the agricultural industry.”
The agricultural market is changing, and growers are demanding the newest and most effective technologies to increase profitability, said Paul Rea, senior vice president, Crop Protection, BASF North America.
“BASF responded to growers’ needs by making significant investments in production to deliver effective solutions to help farmers manage weed resistance and produce higher yields. We could not have done this without our skilled workforce in Beaumont and across North America who not only help growers, but also help drive our economy,” Rea said.
Texas cotton grower Matt Huie, owner of Huie Farms in Beeville (north of Corpus Christi) said farmers face challenges every day during the growing season such as drought, wind, low prices, high costs, and finding labor, just to name a few. A new challenge in herbicide-resistant weeds has surfaced over recent years, he said, adding that glyphosate-based products are no longer effective to control several different kinds of weeds. Glyphosate is the active ingredient in herbicides such as Monsanto’s Roundup.
“Farmer’s must rely on new tools both, in plant genetics and in chemicals,” Huie said. “It’s great for farmers like me to know that companies like BASF are working hard to provide the innovative resources for our farming toolkit, and one of those resources comes from right here.”
Expansion of the Beaumont facility has allowed BASF to launch a new liquid herbicide, Engenia, which has the ability to control more than 200 broadleaf weeds, including glyphosate-resistant weeds, and dicamba-tolerant soybeans and cotton.
“I’m proud of this expansion,” BASF Global President of Crop Protection Markus Heldt said. “This is a world-scale facility. It marks a very important investment of BASF to remain on top of a very competitive industry.”
The herbicide was registered with the EPA in December and is now stocked in the BASF Beaumont site’s warehouse and available for purchase.
“Soybean and cotton growers now have a new tool at their disposal to manage glyphosate-resistant weeds,” said Neil Bentley, director of marketing, U.S. Crop, BASF. “Engenia herbicide is our most flexible and advanced dicamba for dicamba-tolerant crops. It’s a product that will help growers better manage weeds to get the most out of every acre.”
“The benefits of Engenia herbicide continue beyond weed control,” said Nathan Borgmeyer, senior marketing manager, BASF. “Engenia herbicide is compatible with direct injection technology, adding flexibility to applications and simplifying sprayer cleanout.”
To date, glyphosate-resistant weeds have been identified on more than two-thirds of U.S. farm acres, totaling more than 61 million affected acres. According to the International Survey of Herbicide Resistant Weeds, there are currently 16 species of glyphosate-resistant weeds spread across 38 states, and research shows additional weed species are developing resistance to multiple sites of action.
“Glyphosate-resistant weeds are a serious and growing issue across the country,” said Chad Asmus, Technical Marketing Manager, BASF. “Engenia herbicide is part of a complete weed management program that starts with a residual herbicide and utilizes multiple, effective sites of action to control even the toughest weeds.”
The herbicide features a completely new dicamba molecule, BAPMA salt, which is designed specifically for dicamba-tolerant soybeans and cotton. This innovative formulation is unique to BASF and contains a heavier weight and stronger bond relative to DGA and DMA dicamba formulations. The advancements in formulation and application reduce volatility and off-target movement of the dicamba molecule.
“We expect the demand for dicamba and herbicides like Engenia to increase and the Beaumont facility will be critical in meeting this need,” said Thomas Bereswill, director, BASF AP Manufacturing Americas. “This expansion not only served our customers, but our community as well. We were able to hire 700 contractors in addition to the current 175 on-site employees to complete the project on time.”
Greater Beaumont Chamber of Commerce President Regina Lindsey said many people think of only refinery expansions when they think of the growing Southeast Texas industrial sector, but this expansion proves that products coming out of the area are more diverse.
“While it is true that energy is the foundation of our economy, we are a diversified economy,” Lindsey said. “BASF’s announcement of its expanded products is not only evidence of this, but it also shows the importance of a company’s ability to diversify its products. Time and again the strongest companies are the ones who continue to evolve and find solutions for market needs. We are excited about BASF’s continued growth and appreciate their continued commitment to Southeast Texas.”
Jefferson County Judge Jeff Branick said he appreciates the long-term, positive effect the BASF project will have on the area.
“We’re extremely thankful any time we have an expansion in our industrial base here,” said Branick. “We’re appreciative of your far-looking approach. So many corporations today are just looking at the next quarter. We appreciate you looking further out into the future, and I know that the farmers appreciate that too. We’re extremely appreciative in Jefferson County of the jobs that have been created as a result of these expansions and the secondary economic impacts that they have.”
BASF Corporation, headquartered in Florham Park, New Jersey, is the North American affiliate of BASF SE, Ludwigshafen, Germany. BASF has more than 17,500 employees in North America, and had sales of $16.2 billion in 2016.