North Dakota, Port of Vancouver team up, sign transportation pact
August 29, 2014
The state of North Dakota and one of the nation's leading ports are teaming up to increase the shipment of North Dakota agricultural commodities to the West Coast, while bringing more supplies and industrial products into the state.
Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring and Todd Coleman, CEO, Port of Vancouver USA signed a memorandum of agreement Wednesday in Fargo, uniting the state and the port in a collaborative rail service program that supports both the agricultural and energy industries.
"This agreement provides more marketing opportunities for our identity-preserved and specialty crop products, such as food grade soybeans, peas, lentils, dry beans and other commodities, to be transloaded and containerized," Goehring said. "It also provides a major opportunity for North Dakota commodity handlers, especially smaller and mid-sized companies, to access rail facilities on the same basis as larger companies, enabling them to remain competitive."
"We expect this agreement to increase capacity and reliability for farmers needing to move their products to market by rail," said Coleman. "Cargoes, specifically supplies for the energy industry, are already moving east from the Pacific Northwest to the Midcontinent. We're taking it a step further by leasing boxcars to carry those eastbound cargoes and then, with the help of our logistics partners, filling these boxcars with agricultural products for the return trip to Vancouver."
Coleman explained that the port's responsibilities include designating load centers, managing boxcars, coordinating with BNSF Railway and providing monthly service reports.
Goehring said NDDA's responsibilities include collection of production data, and communicating with the agriculture community, exporters and with small to mid-size shippers.
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"We have been working at this more than a year," Goehring said. "When the Port approached me about the possibility, I saw it as an opportunity to reduce the problem of trying to get out our wheat and other crops to market, a problem we have had for decades and one that has become a greater challenge recently. This agreement will not end that problem, but I believe it can go a long way to relieve it."
"We're looking at starting to move full boxcars from North Dakota as early as mid-September," said Coleman. "The equipment and infrastructure are already there, and we'll work together to optimize its use and get products moving west and beyond to markets in Asia and Latin America."
–N.D. Department of Agriculture