Operators aim to open new Britton grain terminal for 2016 harvest

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Farm Forum

The new grain terminal planned for Britton could be up and running in time for the 2016 harvest season, according to Wheaton Dumont Co-op general manager/CEO Phillip Deal.

“A facility like this one will take from 14 to 18 months to complete,” Deal said during a phone interview on Dec. 31. “It’s going to be a big facility, with a storage capacity of approximately 5 million bushels inside and close to 2 million bushels outside.”

The building of the grain terminal was announced last month by Gov. Dennis Daugaard as part of a plan to upgrade railroad corridors in the state, including the so-called Britton Line that runs from Aberdeen to Geneseo, N.D.

Deal said the $30 million facility is a joint venture between Wheaton Dumont and United Grain Corp., a Washington-based grain exporter and one of the largest such operations on the West Coast. Wheaton Dumont will run the terminal.

“We’re excited and anxious to get co-op with Wheaton Dumont,” said Anthony Flagg, United Grain vice president of business development. “We’re looking at hopefully breaking ground sometime in April and we should be able to handle harvest in fall 2016. I know this has been a dream of the locals there for about 10 years. The railroad upgrade, for us, was really the key to the project.”

The new facility — which would include a loop track for rail cars and the capacity to receive 60,000 bushels per hour, according to Deal — would essentially replace the much-smaller terminal that Wheaton Dumont operates in Britton. Deal said the current facility would likely remain in operation on a seasonal basis.

“This is going to be a big deal for Marshall County,” Deal said. “There’s nothing similar in the area now. The next-closest shuttle station is about 40 miles away. For growers, this will mean improved values paid for grain and it will cut down on transportation time and costs. There won’t be any waiting in line to unload, either.”

Deal added that the terminal, when complete, will mean less stress on area roadways as there will likely be less trucks transporting grain. The new facility will employ about 10 workers. Employees working at the current facility will switch to the new terminal, Deal said.

Flagg said that the fact that 120-car shuttle trains will be accepted on the improved rail line means a lot of product will be leaving Britton in a much shorter amount of time. Deal said his company is still in the process of bidding for the project and lining up contractors.

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New Britton grain terminal by the numbers

$30 million: Estimated cost of the project.

2016: Anticipated first harvest season for the terminal.

10: Number of employees expected to work at the facility.

14-18: Number of months it is expected to build the terminal.

60,000: Bushels of grain the facility will be able to handle per hour.

Source: Wheaton-Dumont Co-op