|Large tanks that hold seed are seen at the Luckey Farmers facility on U.S. Route 6, one mile west of U.S. Route 23. (Photo: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
BRADNER — Luckey Farmers Co-op and Sunrise Cooperative have entered discussions to explore a joint venture in developing a “state-of-the-art grain and agronomy hub” in Wood County. While still in the early stages of planning, it is expected the facility would be located near Bradner at the present site of the Luckey Farmers facility on U.S. 6, one mile west of U.S. 23.
The new facility would be located along the CSX rail lines and thus provide the members of both cooperatives greater marketing ability for their grain.
"We are in the beginning stages of organizing the structure of the LLC and gathering the necessary information required to build a facility of this nature," said Luckey Farmers President and CEO Andy Swerlein. "This venture will expand both cooperatives' presence into Wood County and grow both organizations with the goal of returning equity and value to our member owners."
Swerlein said, "We're always continuing to look for new markets and growth for our members."
He added he expects this to come to fruition and bring added value to both cooperatives as well as their members.
Today, all of Luckey Farmers grain handling facilities are in locations where grain must be trucked to other terminals. The new hub will allow farmers better access to other markets for selling their grain and for receiving better size, scope and product availability for incoming agronomy supplies such as fertilizer.
In addition to the rail line and near the intersection of two major U.S. routes, the facility would also be within roughly 10-15 miles of both Interstate 75 and the Ohio Turnpike.
Swerlein said he knew his cooperative could not do it on their own, so they looked to Sunrise, who he says is a good size cooperative and structured similarly to Luckey Farmers.
"The capital outlay required is something we couldn't do on our own. Together, we can build a facility of this size for the benefit of the entire area," Swerlein said.
Reiterating this is only a preliminary plan, Swerlein said he is 90-percent sure it will be developed.
In order to locate the hub at the proposed site, they will have to get approval from CSX and acquire more land.
"We have to make sure we don't have any obstacles," Swerlein said.
Currently, Sunrise Cooperative, based in Fremont, has seven facilities (three seasonal) in five counties and serves 3,240 farmer members. Luckey Farmers, with its home office in Woodville, has nine facilities and serves more than 2,000 farmer/members in six counties.
If plans continue moving forward, the LLC aims to break ground in spring 2014. The new facility could begin serving customers in 2015.
"We believe this is a great location for the members of both cooperatives and will be to their benefit," Swerlein summarized.
Ideally he says the new facility could provide an additional 20 to 25 jobs.