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Illinois offers emergency grain storage as part of hurricane relief
Illinois Correspondent

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — In the aftermath of the disaster caused by hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) is authorizing the use of temporary and emergency grain storage structures.

These temporary storage structures would ease space shortages caused by shipping delays on the Mississippi River. According to the IDOA, Illinois exports nearly half of its corn and soybeans, transporting much of the grain down the Mississippi to New Orleans, where it is loaded onto ships and delivered to customers around the world.

“Illinois has more warehouse storage than any state in the nation, but until grain starts moving on the rivers, available space may be scarce, especially at river terminals,” said IDOA Director Chuck Hartke. “Whenever situations like this arise, the Illinois Department of Agriculture works closely with the grain industry to make sure there are markets for our crops. Last year, we authorized temporary and emergency storage space because of the bumper crop. And, if a need arises this year because of snarled traffic on the Mississippi, we’re ready to authorize it again.”

With harvest in full swing, more grain is being added to the local elevators and farmers wanting to transport grain by the river are in trouble. Damages caused by Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf brought river traffic to a virtual standstill. With last year’s record-breaking yields, storage capacity was already in short supply. For temporary storage facilities to be approved, they must be licensed warehouses. The license will allow grain stored on a permanent base made of concrete, asphalt or a similar material. IDOA has outlined certain requirements that sites must meet to be approved for temporary storage facilities.

The site must have hot spot detectors; aeration fans and ducts provided to assure the quality of grain storage is maintained. The grain storage structure must have rigid sidewalls made of concrete, wood, metal or a similar material and the grain storage structure must be equipped with a waterproof covering of sufficient strength to support a person’s weight and with inlets to allow airflow. Also, the facility must maintain access to the grain for the purpose of sampling and making examinations.

This temporary storage will expire after six months or on May 15 - whichever comes first. If the need for longer storage is demonstrated, the license can be extended for a period of up to 90 days. The condition that cannot be extended is emergency storage that allowed licensees to store grain on the ground, this license is only good for three months and cannot be renewed.

While grain dealers will be in the position to assist, they need to be aware that, according to IDOA, both temporary and emergency storage space are considered an increase in the licensed storage capacity of a warehouse and are subject to an insurance assessment that protects grain depositors.

With this announcement, added temporary storage may soon be added to the 1.2 million bushels of grain already approved for temporary storage, thus far. When the plan to approve emergency storage was made on Sept. 22, there were already applications for more than 19 million additional bushels.

For details, contact Chris Herbert of the IDOA at 217-558-1539.