Large grain facility planned near Milan

By Sam Jack

Moundridge-based Mid Kansas Coop (MKC) is moving ahead with plans for a rail-shuttle grain storage and loading facility about a mile east of Milan, according to a statement from the company. 

MKC first announced that it was exploring a Milan facility in November 2015, and the Sumner County Commission approved zoning and permits for the project last month. A timeline for groundbreaking and construction will be announced once an economic feasibility study now in progress returns a favorable result.

The proposed facility is to include a high-speed shuttle loader with access to the BNSF railroad line. Storage capacity at the site will total about seven million bushels.

The rise of high-speed shuttle loaders has been one factor driving consolidation of grain elevators and cooperatives across the U.S. over the past two decades, according to a 2010 Wall Street Journal report. 

The high-speed loaders can load grain onto train cars at up to twice the speed of traditional grain elevators. Shorter waits at elevators and more efficient uses of the rail system lead to lower overall transportation costs for farmers.

Garden Plain Coop general manager Terry Kohler cited competition from a future MKC facility in Milan as one factor that has led to merger discussions. The Sedgwick County cooperative’s owner-members will vote on a merger with cooperatives in Anthony and Kiowa next month.

The Milan grain facility will be co-owned by MKC and CHS Inc. (formerly Cenex), and it will operate as Producer Ag, LLC. Producer Ag already operates one high-speed shuttle loading facility in Canton, Kan.

“This project is part of our continued commitment to meet the needs of farmers and to sustain the cooperative model for future generations,” MKC president and CEO Dave Christiansen said in a statement.