HALLS, TENNESSEE, U.S. — Cargill AgHorizons said on April 20 that it will invest $25 million at its Hales Point grain elevator near Halls, Tennessee, U.S., in a modernization project that will significantly increase its storage capacity and improve the speed to unload grain to better service customers.

On an annual basis, Cargill will be able to double the amount of grain it can handle.

"Our goal is to be the most efficient grain elevator for area farmers, and the additional storage space, as well as the increased unloading capabilities, will help us achieve that," said Kevin Mount, Cargill AgHorizons sales manager. Work on expanding the storage capacity should be completed by December. The additional storage capacity will allow Cargill to also buy milo/sorghum grain at some point in the future. Cargill buys mainly corn, soybeans and soft red winter wheat at Hales Point.

The elevator currently can unload about 10 trucks per hour.

"We will significantly increase that number," said Tom Rodman, project leader, Cargill AgHorizons Mid-South Farm Service Group. "The lines of trucks can be pretty long at peak harvest times and these enhancements will minimize that issue. The goal is to realize an increase in our current unload capacity for the fall harvest this year."

The modernization project will allow Cargill to load a barge in less than two hours, much faster that the current rate of six hours. Most of the agricultural products at Hales Point are sent by barge to Cargill's export elevators in Westwego and Reserve, Louisiana, U.S. From there, they are shipped around the world.

"Hales Point is directly connected to the world's growing demand for food and feedstuffs," said Barry Brandstetter, general manager for the Cargill AgHorizons Mid-South Farm Service Group.

The elevator currently employs nine people, and three more Cargill jobs will be added at the facility because of the modernization. During harvest, the plant employs approximately 20 part-time workers.

In November 2010, Cargill installed a high-capacity grain dryer at Hales Point to increase the ability to unload grains during wet harvests.

The Hales Point elevator was built in 1964. Cargill took ownership in 1999 through the acquisition of the Commodity Marketing Group of Continental Grain Company.