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Farmers hopeful Interstate Grain Elevator will operate again

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Posted at 5:52 PM, Sep 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-04 19:48:29-04

CORPUS CHRISTI — Local sorghum farmers say they had an excellent harvest, but they don't have anywhere to sell their crops. They've also lost storage space for their sorghum because one of our local elevators isn't taking in any grain right now.

The Interstate Grain Company’s elevator sits empty on the Corpus Christi Ship Channel, another casualty of the trade war with China.

“We haven't had much of a market this year because of the tariffs and the lack of trade with China,” said farmer Bobby Nedbalek.

According to Nedbalek, local farmers found out Interstate was looking to offload the property early this year. Farmers were then left with only one local export option: Archer Daniels Midland. Nedbalek says that lack of competition cost him about $.30 per bushel.

“If we had another elevator, the Interstate elevator working along with our main elevator on the ADM property, then we'd get the advantage of having competitive bids,” said Nedbalek.

Energy company EPIC Midstream Holdings LP took over the Interstate property, wanting to use its dock for energy exports. But EPIC has also bought the adjoining property.

Nedbalek says he's encouraged with the conversations he and other farmers have had with EPIC since then.

“They're going to build a new dock, and that's going to let the two interests operate independently,” said Nedbalek.

All that's needed is a company willing to operate the elevator and export the grain. Nedbalek is confident one will be found.

“There are other interests, grain merchandisers, who can come in and be a part of this delivery system that we need so desperately,” he said.

According to Nedbalek, there was enough room to store this year's harvest at the ADM elevator, as well as other elevators. However, a solution is needed before next year's harvest.

Farmers hope EPIC can find an operator for the grain elevator by the end of the year, so they can start working on contracts for next year's harvest.