ST. PAUL, MINN. — CHS, Inc., St. Paul, and Northern Partners Cooperative, Mendota, Ill., have formed a joint venture to build and operate a grain barge loading facility at Peru, Ill.

The new facility will handle corn, soybeans and wheat for export through the CHS export elevator at Myrtle Grove, La. Situated on the Illinois river, Peru is 60 miles northeast of Peoria, Ill. Mendota is 15 miles north of Peru.

Additionally, CHS has agreed to build a 47,000 ton capacity fertilizer warehouse at Peru to be operated by Northern Partners. The new grain and fertilizer facilities will be used by Northern Partners to serve its farmer-owners. Similarly, CHS said it would serve its nearby cooperative wholesale fertilizer and grain customers from the facilities.

“These new state-of-the-art facilities will help provide a more stable, dependable source of crop nutrients as well as a cooperative presence in the grain export market, which will add value to our member-owners’ farming operations,” said Eric Anderson, general manager, Northern Partners Cooperative.

Construction of the facilities is expected to begin early this year with completion slated for the spring of 2016.

Rick Dusek, CHS vice-president of Ag Business, said the agreement may be seen as part of a larger growth plan pursued by the company.

“CHS is always looking for strategic investments and partnerships that create additional growth opportunities for its farmer-owners, and this agreement with Northern Partners Cooperative does just that,” he said. “It allows CHS to expand its grain origination with direct Illinois river access and it enables further growth of our fertilizer business by adding infrastructure that is critical to timely and reliable fertilizer supply and delivery.”

Northern Partners was formed in 2009 through the merger of four cooperatives in north central Illinois.