The cooperative and grain industries continue to expand with ever larger storage and loading capabilities.
A prime example is the recent announcement by the Aurora Cooperative, one of Nebraska's largest cooperatives, and CHS Inc. to build a high-speed shuttle loading facility near Superior.
CHS is an energy grains and foods company and the nation's leading farmer-owned cooperative.
Construction on the new entity, a limited liability company called Superior East, LLC, will begin immediately and be completed in about 12 months and be ready for the 2014 harvest season, says George Hohwieler, Aurora Cooperative president and CEO.
Superior East will have a storage capacity of 1,250,000 bushels and eventually include a 120-car-capacity circle track on the BNSF line to move corn, soybeans and hard red winter wheat to markets west and south, including Mexico, he says. Additionally, the location will provide a grain ground piling system, as well as 10,000-ton liquid fertilizer storage. The site has ample room to expand both grain and fertilizer capacity, he says.
The current Aurora Cooperative facilities in Superior needed updating, according to Hohwieler. That was one of the reasons for the joint venture with CHS.
Superior East, according to Lynden Johnson, business solutions executive vice president, was formed under the recently introduced CHS Partnered Equity Program. This first-of-its-kind program allows CHS owners to unlock a portion of their equity in CHS to provide capital for an expansion project, he adds. Cooperatives participating in the program use a portion of their CHS equity as a contribution to a venture in which CHS focuses on helping their cooperative grow. Eligible projects include shuttle loaders, fertilizer hub plants, energy assets and other growth opportunities.
"By using a portion of our CHS equity along with additional CHS capital to build a next-generation ag multiplex, we will be able to provide the Aurora Cooperative farmer-owners in southern Nebraska and northern Kansas additional access to world grain and fertilizer markets via the BNSF rail system," says Hohwieler. "This significant expansion fully aligns with our vision to be a financially strong, innovative, and locally-owned agri-business."
"The goal of the program is to help our owners grow by providing strong cooperatives like Aurora the opportunity to unlock a portion of their equity in CHS for projects that directly serve their farmer owners," Johnson adds. "We look forward to exploring other projects that would benefit our owners in Nebraska and other states in CHS trade area."
Superior East, LLC is a 50/50 joint venture with a governing board comprised of representatives from both CHS and the Aurora Cooperative. However, facility will be operated by the Aurora Cooperative.
Hohwieler says the loading facilities at Superior will have an underpass that will allow access to the inside of the rail loop even with a shuttle train on the loop.
"It's our biggest venture outside of our own Aurora West complex," he adds.
Headquartered in Aurora, the cooperative serves customers across Nebraska and in surrounding states. For more information, go to www.auroracoop.com.