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Ninety-six percent of NWGG’s members voted in favor of the merger, while 93% of Whitgro’s members voted in favor.

“Market economics is a big reason,” Heath Barnes, general manager of Whitgro Inc., told the Capital Press. “Really, (it’s the) same reason all the other co-ops are consolidating — mainly market economics, a shift in some of our freight options and our ability to remain competitive for our members.”

Whitgro was formed in 2008 through the merger of wheat grower groups in Endicott and St. John, Washington, U.S. Today, the company has 390 members. NWGG has 1,700 members.

Chris Peha, general manager of NWGG, told the Capital Press that the majority of Whitgro’s facilities are on a short-lined railroad owned by the state of Washington. NWGG, though, has an agreement with the railroad operator to move and load grain at Whitgro’s facilities and ship it to NWGG’s facilities along the river.

In December, Central Washington Grain Growers Inc. of Waterville, Davenport Union Warehouse Co., Odessa Union Warehouse Co-Op and Reardan Grain Growers Inc. agreed to purchase Almira Farmers Warehouse Co. on April 1 to form HighLine Grain Growers Inc. The new company is expected to better address business costs and aging infrastructure.