By KEVIN WALKER
LANSING, Mich. — Michigan Agricultural Commodities (MAC) just announced the largest expansion of its facilities in any single year of its 36-year existence.
The expansion is expected to add 4.5 million bushels of storage capacity at MAC’s eight facilities across the state of Michigan.
Currently, storage capacity at these facilities is between 38 million-39 million bushels and is set to increase to just under 43 million.
The company’s two largest facilities, at Breckenridge and Middleton, are each adding 1.4 million bushels of storage space. The two locations will see receiving, drying and transferring capabilities improve as a result of the expansion, the company said in a statement.
The Breckenridge location, with 15.2 million bushels of storage space, is the company’s largest and also the largest grain elevator in the state.
“Over the past decade, production has steadily been increasing,” said Dave Geers, president of MAC. “It is our mission at MAC to continually provide our loyal customers with services they deserve.”
That was similarly the word from Rachel Haskin, a grain merchandiser at MAC who also handles much of the communication for the company. “We’ve been increasing our storage capacity over the past several years, but this would be our largest expansion ever,” she said.
Haskin explained in 2010 and 2011 the company increased its storage capacity about 18 percent. In 2013, it will increase about another 10 percent. The company primarily handles wheat, corn and soybeans.
She said the company owns seven facilities in the state and also runs an eighth it doesn’t actually own. It also has a facility in Ontario, Canada.
The company started in 1976 as a grain trader. In 1985 it began purchasing grain elevators. Much of the grain it handles is shipped by rail and goes to the southeastern part of the United States to feeder markets, she said.
“Since we erected a lot of ethanol facilities in Michigan in the mid-2000s, it has afforded greater use of Michigan grain inside the state,” Haskin said.
“Ethanol is one of the big reasons grain is staying in Michigan,” said Bob Boehm, manager of Commodity Marketing at the Michigan Farm Bureau.
“All of the ethanol plants in Michigan stayed open through the drought and were helped by grain shipments from Ontario,” Haskin said, referring to last year.
Boehm said Michigan’s agricultural sector is continuing to grow. Wheat growers just passed a checkoff last year, which he explained should increase the profitability of those growers. Cereal makers seem to like the soft white wheat, he stated.
He added that better tile drainage in the state is helping grain in the state, as well. “We see yield enhancements because of increased tile drainage.”
Other improvements at the company’s facilities include an increase in the number of double trailers. The Newaygo facility will add a new 12-by-90-foot truck scale along with 470,000 bushels of storage space. Improvements are also being made to eliminate bottlenecking at receiving pits.
The Marlette facility will add a 295,000-bushel bin and a 225,000-bushel bin and is planning to expand grain receiving capabilities soon.
Also, the Brown City facility will add a 145,000-bushel bin for wet corn. The company is also in the process of buying a piece of land adjacent to the Brown City facility, where a 470,000-bushel bin is being considered for construction this year.
A 500,000-bushel bin is also being planned at LAC (London Agricultural Commodities) Tupperville, a subsidiary of MAC in Ontario, Canada.