Grain-Handling Facility Shuffle In The Peace – for Aug. 2, 2010

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There’s been some good news and some bad news for grain producers in the Peace region, with one major grain-handling facility opening but another closing down.

Viterra’s new $24-million full-service retail centre in Sexsmith, about 25 kilometres north of Grande Prairie, opened this summer. The new facility will have full blending capability in a high-throughput fertilizer plant and a 20,000-square-foot warehouse. The concrete and steel grain terminal will have 30,000 tonnes of grain storage and 104-rail car loading capability once it’s completed this fall.

Bob Miller, Viterra’s senior vice-president for the North American Grain Division, said his company’s commitment to the Peace is demonstrated by company assets in the region – a 100-car station in Falher, as well as sites in Grimshaw, High Level, Dawson Creek and Fort St. John, B. C. “Our rationale for Sexsmith in particular is improving our value proposition to customers in the region,” said Miller. “By putting in a 100-car station we’re improving car efficiencies and velocity which provides more capacity for Peace producers.”

Miller said Viterra believes there was a need in the area for additional capacity. “The Peace is a growth area,” he said. “There’s opportunity for grass acreage to come back into grain production.”

The new Sexsmith site replaces the Grande Prairie facility. “This was older, small and inefficient,” said Miller. “Falher is larger in storage capacity but it’s only in a single spot.”

The load-out capacity at Sexsmith will be running at about 15 cars an hour, making it one of the more efficient facilities we have in the Viterra network,” said Miller. He says the sites in Falher and Sexsmith will be the only true 100-car loaders in the Peace region.

Cargill closes at Albright

While Viterra celebrates the opening of one of the jewels in its network, Cargill made the unexpected announcement it would close its Albright crop inputs and grain-handling facility. The facility, about 40 minutes west of Grande Prairie, has two full-time employees.

Cargill says staff will continue serving area producers through its grain-handling facility in Rycroft, an hour north of Grande Prairie. Existing crop input products at the Albright facility will be shipped to Cargill’s Rycroft site or direct to farmer-customers.

“The decision to close our Albright grain elevator was not easy and is in no way a reflection of the great work provided by our professional staff over the years,” said Mike Witkowicz, Cargill’s regional farm service group leader. “Our existing facility, which was last upgraded in 1987, had become outdated, with no viable option for further investment.”

The Albright decision will also mean closure of its fertilizer outlet and grain-drying operation.

The announcement surprised local producers. Some say the west end of the County of Grande Prairie will be underserviced with the closure. Farmers will have to haul much longer distances either to the new Viterra site in Sexsmith, or to Cargill in Rycroft or Dawson Creek, B. C.

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bob miller

viterra

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