Cellulosic Sugar Producers Co-operative shutting down

Corn Stalks (Blackburnnews.com file photo)

The Cellulosic Sugar Producers Co-operative (CSPC) has announced that it’s ceasing operations to mitigate ongoing expenses and costs.

The Ontario farmer-owned co-operative said it’s purchased back all investments made by farmers, including the membership shares.

The co-operative was formed to supply a London-based company’s proposed new refinery at Sarnia’s TransAlta Bluewater Energy Park. Comet Biorefining’s project, to turn wheat straw and corn leaves and stalks into sugar, was put on hold over a year ago.

CSPC said it was successful in developing a business model for the aggregation, transportation and storage of corn stover and wheat straw. An Offering Statement was prepared and 118 growers signed, committing more than 30,000 acres of biomass.

Former President Dave Park said the work was accomplished with financial support from the government through Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

“It was always an important objective for the board to protect the farmer investment in this co-operative and we are proud of the fact that we accomplished so much and were still able to return 100% of the farmer investment,” he said.

He acknowledged the tremendous support from Bioindustrial Innovation Canada (BIC) and AGRIS Co-operative.

CSPC has also thanked all the local suppliers, volunteers and machinery experts for their support and time to prepare and successfully execute field demonstrations.

CSPC said it strongly values southwestern Ontario’s community support throughout the duration of the project and the knowledge from it is being retained by BIC for future reference and support of future opportunities.

As the future unfolds, CSPC said there will be several opportunities for agriculture biomass from cereals, corn, hemp and other crops to play a role in building the bioeconomy and circular economy.