"Our draw area for grain is from the five surrounding counties, which are some of the top producers of corn and soybeans in the country," said Doug Childers, farm service group leader for Cargill AgHorizon's Central Illinois region. "Having access to load trains on the CSX gives the local farmer customers additional access to the eastern livestock markets, Cargill's soybean processing plants in the southeast, and the Gulf export markets."
The $6.4-million project should be completed in the spring of 2013. The rail loop, which can accommodate 110 grain cars, will be around the perimeter of 200 acres at the Cargill site. If all the cars were in a straight line, they would stretch for over one mile. Rather than making up a large shipment from multiple locations, the unit train allows for all cars to be loaded at one place.
"Unit trains are an efficient way to move large volumes of corn and soybeans," said Todd Wiessing, project leader. "This helps our competitiveness in bidding local grain, giving us year-round access to the Eastern and Gulf markets."
Cargill also has access to the CN and UP rail lines. Tuscola is somewhat rare in having the intersection of three major rail lines.
Brian A. Moody, executive director of the Tuscola Economic Development Inc. & Tuscola Tourism, said, "We are very pleased to see Cargill continuing to make major investments in Tuscola and Douglas County. This project will further expand Tuscola's rail infrastructure and provide access to new markets for area farmers. Projects such as this enhance our competitiveness as we endeavor to recruit new industrial companies to our community."
Illinois Acting Director of Agriculture Bob Flider said projects like Cargill's help the state keep a competitive edge in world markets.
"Illinois is a leading supplier of grain because of its vast production capabilities and advanced transportation systems," he said. "The corn and soybeans grown here can be shipped quickly and efficiently anywhere in the world. Infrastructure investments like this will ensure our state maintains its competitive advantage and remains the supplier of choice for customers in the global marketplace."
Cargill has operated the grain business in Tuscola since 1969. The Tuscola elevator has 7.5-million-bushel storage capacity in upright concrete and steel space, plus room for another four million bushels on temporary ground piles.
Cargill has been making a number of investments in U.S. agriculture the last several years, including a significant capacity expansion at a joint venture grain business in Dana, Indiana.