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Verona unit train loading facility announced

Farmers in eastern LaMoure and western Ransom counties will have another option for shipping grain.

James Valley Grain at Verona announced Thursday it is proceeding with the construction of a shuttle train loading facility, according to Eric Larson, general manager of the company.

An agreement between BNSF and Red River Valley and Western Railroad concerning rates for unit trains was the final step necessary for approving the project, he said.

“We just got the approval from the railroads the first week of July,” he said.

Al Ulmer, LaMoure County extension agent, said increasing the number of shipping options can add to the farmer’s bottom line.

“Unit trains are important,” he said. “I understand the freight (price) breaks are tremendous. That means more money in the producers’ pocket.”

The new facility includes cement storage bins with a 1.2 million-bushel capacity. An additional 2 million bushels can be stored on the ground. It will have the capacity to load 110 to 120 car unit trains. The total cost of the project is estimated at about $25 million.

Larson said the new grain-handling facility replaces a previous facility at Verona that was torn down because it couldn’t meet Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards for safety.

Construction is planned to begin in October. Larson said the project is likely to be complete sometime after the 2015 harvest.

James Valley Grain currently handles about 25 million bushels of grain each year. Larson said the mix includes about 60 percent corn, 35 percent soybeans and 5 percent wheat. The grain is trucked from the Verona area to Oakes where it is loaded on unit trains.

“Price wise it’s better,” Larson said. “From a safety factor for the trucks on the road, it’s better. It is just a better way to handle the grain.”

Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at 701-952-8452 or by email at