SW Louisiana rail facility expected for 2012 crop

Farmers will be able to send rice and other grains to Mexico

By Dwight Roberts
President and Chief
Executive Officer

Resilience has always been a word to describe rice farmers. And while faced with adversity in southwest Louisiana, a group of farmers there have shown their ability to take initiatives and give themselves a new market alternative.

After more than two years of fund raising and planning, the South Louisiana Rail Facility, LLC recently began construction on a site near Lacassine, La., within the town’s Agri-Industrial Park. The new facility will be owned by the Jeff Davis Parish Police Jury, who is leasing the operation to the South Louisiana Rail Loading Facility. Valley View Agri-Systems of Jonesboro, Ark., was awarded the construction project.

Highly Efficient Facility

Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) Commissioner Mike Strain says, “This facility will be an important tool for loading Louisiana grain for export to world markets. This is a huge addition to the agricultural infrastructure for our Louisiana farmers. This project is a perfect example of a public-private partnership for economic development.”

Area farmers raised a staggering $800,000 in an effort to match funding from local and state government funds.

The facility will be highly efficient thanks to an excellent location on Interstate 10 that contains truck scales onsite and two one-mile rail spurs for 200 railcars from a previous project. The facility has an elevator capacity of 25,000 bushels-per-hour with 160,000 bushels of onsite storage. A 25,000 bushels-per-hour Compuweigh rail scale to provide USDA certified weights and a Federal Grain Inspection Service grade room are also onsite.

Dual, covered unloading pits allow trucks four minutes to discharge. Within a one-hour drive, 250,000 acres of mostly long-grain rice are produced. A small managing group will be hired to operate the facility. Service providers include Union Pacific and Burlington Northern Santa Fe railway companies.

New Access To Mexico

Without the facility, area rice farmers are unable to access the growing market in Mexico – No. 1 for U.S. rice exports. With Mexico as the main focus, the US Rice Producers Association carries out an extensive promotional campaign through community development and school programs that addresses nutritional issues in the country. The projects are held with support from the Mexican Rice Council’s mill membership as close to 90 percent of imports are rough rice.

The USA Rice Federation also conducts complementary promotion efforts in this key market.

Congratulations to Louisiana rice farmers in their effort to make this project a reality. A special thank you goes Gov. Bobby Jindal, LDAF Commissioner Mike Strain, State Sen. Daniel Morrish and State Rep. John Guinn for their leadership and support. The project will open new doors not only for rice but also for corn, soybeans, wheat and other grains on a year round basis.

For more, visit www.usriceproducers.com.

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