Special to The Leader
The Orange Leader
Iowa, Louisiana —
The newly completed South Louisiana Rail Facility, located in the Lacassine Agri-Industrial Park, loaded their first shipment of Louisiana long grain rice bound for Mexico today, October 31, 2012. The project was the brainchild of a group of area rice farmers who banded together to form an LLC and sold $5,000 memberships to other farmers and investors who saw both the need and the opportunity for such a high-speed grain loading facility.
“A complex series of partnerships was put together to make this project a reality,” said SLRF Board Chairman Chris Krielow.
The Jefferson Davis Parish Police Jury is the actual builder and owner of the facility and has leased the facility to the SLRF for management. Funds to build the project have come from the administration of Gov. Bobby Jindal through the state’s Capital Outlay Budget as well as grants from the USDA and the Community Development Block Grant Program. Technical and marketing assistance has come from Dwight Roberts of the US Rice Producers Association, who has helped the SLRF host potential customers from rice mills in Mexico.
"The US Rice Producers Association has played an instrumental role in promoting this project, particularly in Mexico where we have an exclusive relationship with buyers and the Mexican Rice Council and have brought them to visit the facility," explained Roberts.
The state of the art facility is designed to load 40 rail cars in 10 hours and will provide USDA certified weights for customers. Construction of the South Louisiana Rail Facility began in February of this year.
Ronnie Petree, Chairman of the Jefferson Davis Parish Economic Development Commission said, “The South Louisiana Rail Facility will provide an additional opportunity for our farmers to market their product. We salute the area farmers and investors who put their money and their energy toward creating and building this facility."
"This is a very exciting time as we look for additional means to export our rice product. Rice is a $476 million industry in Louisiana with 1,058 producers who farm on 416 thousand acres of land. Rail transportation will expedite the movement of these goods as we explore all options to move our rice and grain," said Department of Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain.