TUSCOLA, Ill. — Cargill Inc. recently announced the addition of a “loop” railroad track at its grain elevator in Tuscola, Ill., that will give the company access to the CSX railroad and expand the market for local corn and soybeans to the Eastern/Southeast and the Gulf of Mexico.

“Our draw area for grain is from the five surrounding counties, which are some of the top producers of corn and soybeans in the country,” said Doug Childers, farm service group leader for Cargill AgHorizon's Central Illinois region. “Having access to load trains on the CSX gives the local farmer customers additional access to the eastern livestock markets, Cargill's soybean processing plants in the southeast, and the Gulf export markets.”

The $6.4-million project should be completed in the spring of 2013, according to the company. The rail loop, which can accommodate 110 grain cars, will line the perimeter of 200 acres at the Cargill site. If all the cars were in a straight line, they would stretch for over one mile. The unit train allows for all cars to be loaded at one place, rather than making up a large shipment from multiple locations, according to the company. Cargill also has access to the CN and UP rail lines, which takes advantage of the fact that three major rail lines intersect at Tuscola.

“Unit trains are an efficient way to move large volumes of corn and soybeans,” said Todd Wiessing, project leader. “This helps our competitiveness in bidding local grain, giving us year-round access to the Eastern and Gulf markets.”

Cargill’s Tuscola operation has been in the grain business since 1969. The Tuscola elevator has 7.5-million-bushel storage capacity in upright concrete and steel space, and room for another 4 million bushels on temporary ground piles.