What is in this article?:
- Farmers set up South Louisiana Rail Facility in abandoned sugar facility.
- Sending rough rice directly to Mexico.
While the plan was simple, execution proved anything but, admits Pousson. “There was a long learning curve and we’re still on it. Eventually, we were able to secure enough funding for the state and, eventually, the USDA to know we were serious and warranted help. That was after doing feasibility studies, going through quality worries and jumping through other hoops.”
The LLC now has a 40-year lease on the facility with the state. There are four 40,000-bushel storage units on site. The benefit of that, says Pousson, “is it allows us to preposition our commodity as the railcars are delivered. For example, we just loaded up 40 railcars of rice to ship. The train gets here early Wednesday and the commodity and grade is already known on-site. If someone wants 5, 10, 20 cars, we can have the situation prepositioned ahead of schedule.
“We have a grading room so when the commodity arrives it’s graded (by a Federal Grain Inspection Service inspector). If it doesn’t meet the grade requested by the buyer, it’s turned away.
“We’ve been operational for a year and are slowly growing the business.”
The facility is a showplace – surely among the most modern, efficient, rough rice rail-loading facility in the United States. It can handle 25,000 bushels per hour from trucks, has a dual-truck pit that unloads a truck in four minutes. An overhead scale issues USDA-certified weights.
At the end of October, 2012, the first rail cars were loaded and headed to Mexico. Since then, the pace has picked up and the facility has been very busy.
Both Pousson and Krielow point to the help provided by Dwight Roberts, head of the U.S. Rice Producers Association, who has extensive contacts south of the border.
“Dwight has been instrumental in putting together a 160-car order,” says Pousson. “That wasn’t in place until the summer, so we’re tickled to have it. There’s another 130-car order that will go out in another month – a specialty rice.”
“This sort of effort really strikes at the heart of what USRPA is all about,” says Roberts. “We’re very pleased to have been a part of this. It’s so important to provide farmers with alternatives in the marketplace.”