KALAMA, WASH. — United Harvest, L.L.C. on Wednesday announced plans to "improve and modernize" its grain export facility in Kalama through a rail yard expansion that will increase inbound rail capacity and reduce a logistical bottleneck around daily receipt of those rail cars.

"We’re expanding our inbound rail capacity by 100%, which will result in faster turnarounds, greater efficiencies and overall improved performance," said Gary Schuld, president of United Harvest, a joint venture between CHS, Inc. and Mitsui & Co., Ltd. of Tokyo. "By doubling our inbound capacity, we’re in a better position to meet our customers’ growing needs.

"We see this important infrastructure investment as phase one of a three-part modernization program at the United Harvest Kalama facility. These improvements will enhance our ability to add value by effectively linking producers to global commodity customers."

The project is under way and is expected to be completed by Sept. 30. In addition to Kalama, United Harvest operates an export facility in Vancouver, Wash.

According to the 2009 Grain & Milling Annual published by Sosland Publishing Co., the Kalama facility has uploading capacity of 6.4 million bus and loading capacity of 60,000 bushels per hour.

News of the expansion comes two days after Bunge North America said it has formed a joint venture with Itochu Corp. and STX Pan Ocean to build and operate an export grain terminal at the Port of Longview in Washington state. The joint venture, which will be called EGT Development, L.L.C., will create the first export terminal in the United States in more than two decades, Bunge said.