STASWCD Tours Valley Co-op Oil Mill

South Texas Association of Soil & Water Conservation Districts

Tours Valley Co-Op Oil Mill


On February 28, 2019, the South Texas Association of Soil & Water Conservation Districts (STASWCD) held its semi-annual meeting in Harlingen, Texas.  The participants began the day by touring the Valley Co-Op Oil Mill.  In business since 1946, the Mill receives cottonseed from 19 gins across Texas, including the Winter Garden Coop in Batesville. Valley Co-Op is unique in that it is owned by its customers/members.  Ownership is comprised of 16 co-op gins which are owned by producers.

The normal process begins when seed is received around July and ends in November or December each year.  Upon arrival at the mill, trucks are unloaded and the cottonseed can either be fed directly into the plant or sent to storage in a “seed house.”  Seed houses on location can house between 8,000 to 13,000 tons of seed.  Each part of the cottonseed is separated and processed. The seed is sent through compartments called “seed cleaners” to remove rocks, sticks and other debris,  The lint goes through a first cut, then a second cut process to produce clean seed.  It is then compressed into bales.  Both cuts of lint are marketable as well as the clean seed.  About 90% of cottonseed lint is used in domestic markets in the U. S. while 10% is exported to China and Japan.

In the “huller room,” the hulls are separated from the meats by shakers and decorticators, or separators, and hull beaters.  Heavy hulls and meats are continually recycled through the process until they are of a finer quality.  The hulls are then recleaned and sent to the hull house for loading. The meats are transformed into pellets and go through several more cleaning, separation and refining processes before a finished oil is produced.  “Cottonseed meal” is the product left over from the meats once all of the oil is extracted. The plant can produce between 7500 – 9000 lbs. of cottonseed oil per hour.  Cottonseed oil is a basic ingredient commonly used in foods such as chips, pretzels and crackers. 

The STASWCD would like to thank Mr. Peña and Plant Manager Dennis Easley for a most interesting tour of the mill.  After the tour and lunch, the STASWCD held its business meeting.  President Mario Escobar facilitated the meeting.  Speaking at the meeting were Association of Soil & Water Conservation Districts Area III Director Rick Schilling from Fayatteville, Natural Resources Conservation Service Assistant State Conservationist Tomás Dominguez from Corpus Christi, Charles Goeke Area III Texas Conservation Association for Water and Soil (TCAWS) Director and Texas State Soil & Water Conservation Board (TSSWCB) Chairman José Dodier from Zapata.  Also in attendance from the TSSWCB was Tina Buford, a Governor appointee to the Board.