Consolidated Grain and Barge Company Visit| March 2017
A major grain terminal just across the Ohio River from Louisville recently hosted a dozen members of the Agribusiness Industry Network and the Louisville Ag Club, where the group toured the sampling, weighing and storage facilities that annually receive and ship millions of bushels of grain from central Kentucky and southern Indiana farmers.
Consolidated Grain and Barge Company, a Japanese-owned firm with U.S. headquarters in New Orleans, operates around 100 grain elevators and terminals throughout the central part of the country. It is also part of a global agribusiness enterprise which provides feed ingredients, processing, shipping and fertilizer products to clients and affiliated companies around the world.
CGB Jeffersonville Operations Manager Chuck Long led the tour for the group, detailing how the staff caters to the thousands of customers who move in and out of the sprawling facility over a year's time. During peak season, from Labor Day through the winter to Memorial Day the following spring, the terminal operates 24 hours, 7 days just to keep pace with the traffic.
"Time is money for the shippers who truck grain here from farms or from smaller inland elevators," Long noted. Each truck, which typically holds 20 to 25 tons of grain, stops first on arrival at an automated probe station, where the grain is sampled for grade quality and moisture.
Next stop is the scale to determine weight, then it moves to the hopper where the contents are dumped into underground bins for eventual movement into storage to await loading onto a barge.
The whole process takes 9 to 12 minutes per truck, Long added. During peak delivery times, between 400 and 500 trucks a day offload primarily corn and soybeans. Most of the grain comes from about a 60-mile radius of the terminal, he added.
The majority of the grain moving through CGB is loaded onto barges for river shipment to the New Orleans export facility. Each barge holds some 1,500 tons of material.
But not all the company's river operations are outgoing. The terminal also receives inbound barge shipments of fertilizer and salt. Some trucks bringing farmers' grain to CGB will take a load of fertilizer back to the farm on the return trip.
The salt is primarily for wintertime treatment of roads by Indiana and Kentucky road maintenance crews. Long says nearby highway departments in both states get their salt from his terminal.
Long said virtually all the grain he handles is GMO, but he added that demand is growing for non-GMO product. That niche is not an easy market to service, he added, since buyers demand 99.7 per cent purity and want the corn or beans traceable back to the farm.
The Jeffersonville facility dates to 1984, when it was built by Merchants Grain. That business grew and expanded, and was eventually purchased by the current owners. There are currently about 100 employees running 3 shifts during peak season.
The complexities of the operation demand a highly competent workforce, Long said. To ensure continuity he keeps a bench of trainees on staff most of the time. He recruits from tri-state area college ag and engineering programs.
A key part of the work crew is a strong complement of merchandisers, who solicit grain from farmers and independent elevators.
"Without those relationships that our merchandising staff develops and maintains, we wouldn't have become the business you see here today," Long said. "Those guys and the farmers who grow the grain are the key to our success."
Gary Huddleston | AIN Chairman