Train at grain bins Daniel Stein/iStock/Thinkstock

Proposed sale of grain elevators raises concerns

Missouri Farm Bureau sounds alarm on sale of Bunge elevators to Zen-Noh in ongoing consolidation in Missouri and Arkansas.

The recent announcement of the sale of 35 operating U.S. grain origination elevators along the Mississippi River from Bunge North America Inc. to Zen-Noh Grain Corp. (ZGC), a subsidiary of the National Federation of Agricultural Cooperative Associations of Japan, has caused great frustration and concern for members of the Missouri Farm Bureau.

ZGC affiliate CGB Enterprises Inc. (CGB) will operate the acquired facilities through its wholly owned subsidiary, Consolidated Grain & Barge Co. CGB currently operates more than 100 grain origination facilities in the U.S. “This acquisition dramatically increases ZGC’s presence and origination footprint in the U.S.,” the Missouri Farm Bureau said in an action alert to its members.

Of specific concern to its members is a 140-mile stretch of the lower Mississippi River from Dorena, Mo., to Osceola, Ark. There are 21 grain terminals along that path, and two of those terminals access only rice.

If the Bunge/ZGC sale is allowed to proceed, CGB will own 12 of the 19 remaining grain terminals that access corn, soybeans, wheat and grain sorghum. On the west side of the Mississippi River, there will now be seven consecutive CGB grain terminals in a row covering 92 miles of river.

In the 1990s, Cargill purchased the assets of Continental Grain Co. along part of this same stretch of river. The U.S. Department of Justice ruled in the case (Civil No. 99-1875) United States vs. Cargill Incorporated (Cargill) & Continental Grain Company (Continental) that Cargill could not buy a Continental facility, nor could the facility be bought by Bunge because it was already a major buyer in the local market. In this instance, there would have been three consecutive grain terminals on the west bank of the Mississippi River. If the Bunge sale to ZGC is allowed, there would be seven consecutive terminals owned by the same company.

“This purchase will forever change the shape of the grain markets in southeast Missouri and northeast Arkansas,” the Missouri Farm Bureau said.

The action alert urged members to contact their national representatives and senators to insist that the sale be placed on hold until the impacts are properly vetted.

A form letter that can be sent to members of Congress states: “This consolidation and deterioration in available markets to farmers will change the shape of grain markets in southeast Missouri as well as other states. I ask your assistance in making the relevant agencies aware of this proposal and ask that it be placed on hold until the agencies have had an opportunity to analyze the impacts of the purchase and can provide assurances this consolidation will not harm farmers in any of the impacted states.”

TAGS: Policy
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