Rail Facility Opens
New shuttle-loader operation is largest project in MFA history
CT 06 22 17
- Farmers, industry representatives and media got their first glance inside the new MFA Hamilton Rail
Facility with a two-day open house June 20 and 21. Under construction for the past year, the Rail Facility is
MFA's largest single investment in real dollars in any geographic region. It is a joint venture between MFA Incorporated, a
grain marketing and farm supply cooperative, and MFA Oil Company, a farmer-owned energy supply cooperative.
Guests at the open house had a chance to hear from company officials, see
grain receiving demonstrations and take tours of the newly completed facility.
"As a cooperative, our core purpose is to contribute to the success of both our
member-owners and their communities. That has been a constant for over 100
years," MFA Incorporated CEO Ernie Verslues said. "Our long
history is proof that we have constantly reinvented ourselves over time and continued to invest in the
future," he said. "This facility is the latest example of that
After considerable research to find a location for its grain expansion efforts, MFA Incorporated identified
this site on Highway 36, five miles east of Hamilton. The facility accesses the Union Pacific railroad,
which gives MFA the ability to sell grain into new markets in the southwest United States and exports to Mexico.
Located on Highway 36 in Caldwell County, the shuttle-loader facility takes advantage of an improved four-lane
highway, proximity to north-south traffic on Interstate 35 and direct access to the Union Pacific Railroad. With a rail
siding to accommodate a 110-car "shuttle" train, the facility is also known as a
"looploader" because the track is in a circle connected to the main line. Railroads prefer to load grain via the shuttle method for ease of movement from a
point of origin to a destination.
Officials say size and efficiency for a growing grain industry are the objectives of the facility, which can move 60,000
bushels per hour as farmers deliver grain. A 110-car shuttle train will hold approximately 420,000 bushels of corn or
380,000 bushels of soybeans and can be loaded in fewer than eight hours. The operation will position MFA to
potentially reduce truck traffic by as much as 14 million bushels of grain annually.
The facility will provide new efficiencies for MFA
Incorporated's grain division as well as access to large and diverse
markets such as exporters, poultry and cattle operations, and other end users of grain in areas that stretch from the Gulf Coast to the West Coast and Mexico. It will benefit farmers in north central Missouri and southern Iowa by
providing them a modern, high-speed grain facility to deliver crops and quickly unload during peak seasons.
"The grain business, as well as the grain farmer, continue to evolve in Missouri. At MFA, we have to evolve as
well," said Mitch Dawson, MFA Incorporated director of grain operations.
"Our new Hamilton shuttle-loader positions us to hit new markets that were not economically feasible before due to freight costs and volume shipment requirements. It shows that MFA is in the grain business for the long
haul." While the Hamilton facility is designed to move grain rather than store it, there are 2 million bushels of permanent grain storage and 1.5 million bushels of temporary storage on site. This can help relieve
harvest time pressure on existing MFA grain receiving facilities in the region.
"There is a lot of grain produced in north central and northwest Missouri, and harvest is a critical time for
farmers," said Adam McIntyre, regional manager for MFA locations in the area.
"During high-volume periods, we can move grain from smaller elevators to the shuttle loader to keep local storage capacity
The joint venture between MFA Incorporated and MFA Oil Company brings resources and expertise from both
cooperatives and a significant investment in local communities. The facility will be operated by MFA Incorporated
with seven full-time employees, including Manager David Jones, and offer seasonal part-time jobs as demand grows.
"This facility will deliver great value to the farmer-members of both cooperatives, and we are proud to partner with MFA Incorporated in bringing it to
fruition," said Mark Fenner, president and CEO of MFA Oil.
"Farmers count on fast, convenient and reliable transportation networks to move their grain, and we are confident the
shuttle-loader's connection to the Union Pacific Railroad will prove to be a prudent
Nathan Bestle, MFA engineer who served as general contractor for the rail facility project, helps unload
corn into the receiving pit during the open house on June 20. The high-speed operation allows farmers to
unload a semi-truck of grain in minutes so they can get back in the fields quickly during peak harvest time.
Craig Childs, a 1989 Tina-Avalon High School graduate, is senior vice president of the Agriculture Division of
MFA and was involved in bringing the facility to fruition. He is the son of Ed and Linda
Childs of the Blue Mound area. His parents were on hand for the open house.
The Hamilton Rail Facility is equipped with state-of-the- art quality control equipment, such as automatic probes that sample the grain to be analyzed before it goes to the bins.
The facility can move 60,000 bushels per hour as farmers deliver grain.
A 110-car shuttle train will hold about 420,000 bushels of corn or 380,000 bushels of soybeans and can be loaded in fewer than eight hours.
The operation will position MFA to potentially reduce truck traffic by as much as 14 million bushels of grain annually.