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Dakota Plains Ag Center LLC, northwest of Yankton, S.D., at Napa Junction is one of the largest grain terminals in southeastern South Dakota. (Michelle Rook/Special to Agweek)

Napa Junction Grain Terminal opens export markets, improves price

Near YANKTON, S.D. — Dakota Plains Ag Center LLC held its grand opening Sept. 7 for a new $40 million grain facility northwest of Yankton, S.D., at Napa Junction.

After years of planning and 17 months of construction, it becomes one of the largest grain terminals in southeastern South Dakota. It also ushers in a new era of grain marketing for farmers in the region.

Matt Winsand, general manager, says the facility has around 1.2 million bushels of upright silo storage, and nearly 5 million bushels of ground storage.

"Total capacity is right about 6.5 million bushels. Our goal long term within year five is to handle at least 25 million bushels annually," he says.

South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard spoke at the grand opening about the many advantages Dakota Plains offers area farmers, including having its own shuttle loading facility.

"They can create a 110-car train all at once and then ship it all the way to the West Coast without removing, adding, subtracting cars along the way. So they're more efficient," says Daugaard.

Plus, the rail line location at Napa Junction is adjacent to state-owned rail, which will provide another big plus for farmers in the export market.

"All it has to be is a few miles or a few yards on the state rail before it adjoins the Burlington Northern line, and it gets that rate advantage," Daugaard says. "That's another reason why a facility at this location is especially good for producers."

Darin Bergquist, South Dakota secretary of transportation, says having access to affordable rail service is going to be a benefit to producers in this area.

"Both the BNSF and other Class I railroads coming off the state-owned line gives them the ability to ship to markets across the country and across the world," he says

Winsand says the export potential with the new facility is huge. They will now have the ability to go to the Pacific Northwest with soybeans and ship to key Pacific Rim export customers, or can move both corn and beans south through the Gulf of Mexico.

"All beans will go west," says Winsand. "Corn is split between where the demand is. If China is in the market, it will go west. If down south is in the market, it will go to Texas."

Flexibility and access should generally mean better grain prices in the area. "Many farmers are now coming here because the basis is a little bit better, and it's only because we have the rail access," notes Winsand.

Winsand says an added bonus is the new facility will help improve wait times for farmers, especially at the height of harvest.

"From the time they hit the sign to get their card scanned in to the time they get their ticket, we're hoping it's 10 minutes," he says.

During harvest and all year-round, time is money for farmers, but he says the state-of-the-art technology at Dakota Plains will alleviate the two to three hour wait times they may have previously experienced.

"Our dump shed here has capacity to hold more than a semi, 1,600 bushels per pit. There's three fast pits," he says.

Winsand says they're excited about what Dakota Plains Ag Center will mean for the economy, both locally and in the surrounding area. Plus, there are economic development opportunities in the future for other ag businesses in the industrial park adjacent to their facility, especially those that need access to rail.

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