BY ELIZABETH LANDRUM | THURSDAY, APRIL 27, 2017 | American Shipper
Agricultural warehousing company West Plains LLC, owned by the BioUrja Group, accepted its first Port of Brownsville grain shipment on Tuesday, the port said. West Plains entered into an agreement with the Texas port in 2016 to restore and operate its grain elevator. The grain shipment this week is the first at the port in more than seven years. The elevator has a capacity to store three million bushels of grain. Since restoration efforts began last year, West Plains has invested more than $5.5 million into the grain elevator.
The initial shipment of 109 rail cars of grain is equivalent to 440 semi-truck loads. The corn will be stored for less than 30 days before being trucked to feed lots north of the Rio Grande Valley and parts of the Mexican states of Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon.
On-port rail service is currently provided by OmniTRAX through a master franchise agreement with Brownsville Navigation District. “The partnership between the Port of Brownsville, OmniTRAX Inc., and West Plains is another example of how the port is working to expand the economic vitality of the Rio Grande Valley,” said John Wood, Brownsville Navigation District chairman.
In the future, West Plains expects to receive 220 rail cars monthly to transport the grain, and include facility enhancements for high-speed handling of grain via truck, rail and vessel. “We’d like to have the ship loader and unloader in about a year,” said Amit Bhandari, chairman and chief executive officer of the BioUrja Group. “It will be an investment of $12 to $15 million, and at that point, we want to just facilitate trade.”