OMAHA, NEB. — In March, the board of directors of Ag Processing Inc. (AGP) approved a major expansion and upgrade of its export facilities at the Port of Grays Harbor (POGH) in Aberdeen, Wash. Six months later, a group of US soybean farmers have committed significant funding to help offset some of the costs of the project.
The Nebraska Soybean Board, the Iowa Soybean Association, the Kansas Soybean Commission, the North Dakota Soybean Council, the South Dakota Soybean Research and Promotion Council, and the Soy Transportation Coalition are among the groups that have pledged $900,000 to help offset some of the pre-engineering, design, and site development costs of the POGH Terminal 4 Expansion and Redevelopment Project.
“With more future soybean processing in this country, farmers are very interested in opportunities to assist with the increased need for soybean meal export capacity,” said Jonathan Miller, a soybean farmer from Island, Ky., and chairman of the Soy Transportation Coalition. “The more we can export a higher-value product, like soybean meal, farmers will benefit. I am proud of how these soybean farmer organizations are demonstrating their commitment to their fellow producers by making this significant investment.”
Mike Steenhoek, executive director of the Soy Transportation Coalition, added, “What happens over there impacts what happens over here, and what happens over here impacts what happens over there. It is well-established how investments in the Pacific Northwest will result in greater farmer profitability in the Midwest. In turn, profitable farmers in the Midwest result in increased investment in the Pacific Northwest. AGP’s expansion project at the Port of Grays Harbor is arguably the most immediate opportunity for soybean farmers to assist with the need for increased soybean meal export capacity. The Soy Transportation Coalition and other farmer organizations are pleased to partner in this important project.”
Gary Nelson, executive director of the POGH, noted that AGP has been “an excellent partner” over the past 20 years, and the POGH is excited to continue to collaborate with them on this major expansion.
“We are extremely pleased and grateful to receive this generous support from soybean farmers,” Mr. Nelson said. “It will clearly enhance this project as it moves forward. We look forward to the Port of Grays Harbor becoming an even more significant economic engine for not only our local and regional community, but also soybean farmers throughout the country.”
As part of the expansion, AGP said it plans to upgrade its current facilities at Terminal 2, including the construction of additional storage, and the addition of a new ship loader at POGH’s Terminal 4. Terminal 2 and Terminal 4 are both deep-water berths with quick access to the open ocean, AGP said, and the planned expansion will enable AGP to load multiple ships up to and including Panamax-sized vessels.
“AGP’s previous and future investments at the Port of Grays Harbor are motivated by the commitment to provide efficient and economical access to international markets for US soybean meal,” said Chris Schaffer, chief executive officer of AGP. “For many years, this export terminal has served as a vital link between AGP farmer-owned cooperative members and critical international markets. We very much appreciate the financial commitment from the soybean farmer organizations to support AGP’s efforts to enhance and upgrade the port’s export capabilities.”AGP said it expects operations at the port to begin in 2025, with final construction decisions and timeline contingent on negotiations with federal, state, local, and POGH officials regarding economic development incentives, lease terms, infrastructure improvements and regulatory considerations.