West Plains Accepts First Units of Grain

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West Plains Accepts First Units of Grain

West Plains LLC employee unloading first unit train of grain (photo Port of Brownsville)
West Plains LLC employee unloading first unit train of grain (photo Port of Brownsville)

Shipment first of expected 220 rail cars monthly

West Plains LLC received its first grain of the season April 25 at the Port of Brownsville with the arrival of 109 rail cars of corn from Nebraska.

West Plains entered into an agreement with the port in 2016 to restore and operate the grain elevator, with capacity to store three million bushels of grain. Since restoration efforts began, they have invested more than $5.5 million in preparation of Tuesday’s shipment, the first at the port in more than seven years. Eventually, West Plains expects to receive 220 rail cars monthly.

The initial shipment of 109 rail cars 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.

“We feel like we’re just scratching the surface,” said Amit Bhandari, chairman and CEO of the BioUrja Group, parent company of West Plains. “There’s a lot of business here.”

West Plains expects to eventually receive 220 rail cars monthly. Future plans include facility enhancements to achieve high-speed handling of grain through all modes of transportation, including truck, rail and vessel. On-port rail service is provided by OmniTRAX through a master franchise agreement with Brownsville Navigation District.

“We’d like to have the ship loader and unloader in about a year,” Bhandari explained. “It will be an investment of $12 to $15 million, and at that point we want to just facilitate trade.”

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