HOPKINSVILLE, KY. — Richard C. Siemer, president of Siemer Milling Co., announced March 18 the company is expanding daily capacity at its Hopkinsville mill. When the project is completed, capacity at the facility will be 16,000 cwts, up from its current 11,000 cwts.

A March 18 ceremony at the Bruce Convention Center in Hopkinsville marked the initiation of the project. Government officials present included Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear and Roger Thomas, executive director of Governor’s Office of Agriculture Policy. Because the ceremony was conducted indoors, the governor symbolically shoveled grain rather than turning dirt at the construction site.

Siemer first began operating at Hopkinsville in 1995. Originally a 7,000-cwt mill, capacity was expanded to 11,000 cwts by 2005. Mr. Siemer said the existing building does not have adequate space for additional capacity, and the new unit, to be called the C mill, will be installed in a newly constructed building. He said there will be space in the building for future expansion.

At a celebration of the company’s 125th anniversary held in 2007, Mr. Siemer said the Hopkinsville mill has been operating at a rate well above industry averages, a point he repeated last week in announcing the expansion.

"We’ve been running this mill at capacity, and we have other opportunities for flour business as well," Mr. Siemer said. "We see some of our customers expanding. Given the volume of business we are doing and future prospects, this expansion represents a good opportunity."

Currently, the Hopkinsville mill is devoted almost entirely to milling soft wheat, a strategy that Mr. Siemer said would continue with the new mill.

Buhler, Inc., Plymouth, Minn., will supply equipment for the new mill. Todd & Sargent Inc., Ames, Iowa, has been engaged as building and equipment installation contractor, and Interstate Electric will be electric contractor.

Grain storage capacity was expanded in advance of this project by 740,000 bus, to 2,550,000 bus.

Mr. Siemer said the mill will be the first in the United States to incorporate the latest generation of Buhler milling technology, including Antares rollers mills, Sirius plansifters and the WinCoS.r2 operating system.

Even before the expansion, the Hopkinsville mill was Siemer’s largest. The company’s mill in Teutopolis, Ill., has 10,000 cwts of daily capacity, and Siemer leases a second mill in Hopkinsville (from Hopkinsville Milling Co.) with 2,000 cwts of daily capacity.

The project is being financed in part as a loan from Kentucky Agriculture Finance Corp., which uses a portion of funds allocated by the state legislature from the state’s tobacco settlement for agricultural development. This loan supported a larger loan from CoBank, the company's principal banking relationship, Mr. Siemer said.