HARRISBURG, S.D. -- Monsanto Company broke ground yesterday on a new soybean breeding facility in Harrisburg, S.D.

The site will develop and test new soybean varieties developed by Monsanto's breeders, as well as varieties containing traits in various stages of pre-commercial advancement in the company's product pipeline.

The groundbreaking ceremony was held in conjunction with the dedication of the adjacent corn breeding facility that opened June 30, 2006.

"Farmers in the Dakotas have been leading adopters of biotech-improved soybeans," said Mike Hawbaker, Monsanto North America soybean breeding lead. "This new facility further supports their adoption and growth in acreage during the past decade. Harrisburg is an ideal location, and we look forward to serving our customers with this new facility."

The 17,500-square-foot site will have an initial permanent staff of two and a seasonal staff of up to 10 part-time employees.

South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds said that Monsanto's plans in this area -- coming so soon after the opening of its corn breeding facility -- has positive implications for the state's bio-tech and agricultural industries.

"When a corporation with the international reputation of Monsanto makes this kind of investment in our area, it sends a message to other companies working in the ag and bio-tech research fields," Gov. Rounds said. "We expect other firms to consider South Dakota for similar projects, especially since Monsanto's rapid expansion validates its choice of our area for its investment."

The Harrisburg center will house equipment and facilities for research, but growers in the state will also have a chance to be involved in the testing process. Hawbaker said the company will likely lease acreage from local growers near Harrisburg and throughout the state to test new varieties.

"Monsanto is committed to making a positive difference in agriculture through the use of technical innovation," said Ted Crosbie, Monsanto vice president of global breeding. "This pair of new facilities in Harrisburg bolsters that commitment for the farmers who are working to meet the world's growing food requirements, and for consumers who desire wholesome, plentiful food and a healthy environment. It is also further evidence of Monsanto's commitment to farmers and customers in the Dakotas."

Monsanto Company is a leading global provider of technology-based solutions and agricultural products that improve farm productivity.

SOURCE: Monsanto Company via PR Newswire.