Tuesday, September 6, 2011

ACX to Cash In on Marine Highway With New Facility at Stockton Port

Less than two weeks after the state okayed further funds for the $30 million Port of Stockton-to-Oakland "marine highway" barge system, Bakersfield, Calif.-based hay exporter ACX Pacific Northwest said it will take advantage of the all-water transportation system by opening a new hay export processing facility at the Stockton port in October.

Predicted to generate 40 to 60 new jobs, ACX expects the new facility to allow the firm to tap sources from farms in the northern San Joaquin and Sacramento valleys, as well as sources in southern Oregon, Nevada and beyond.

ACX, a leading hay exporter to Asia and the Middle East, pioneered the export hay form of processing (often referred to as double compression) that allows forage and roughage exporters to inspect and package the hay in containers prior to shipping.

ACX CEO John Gombos said that the added capacity is needed to keep up with the worldwide demand of ACX products. He added that once the facility is complete, ACX will be the only hay exporter with facilities at all major West Coast ports areas.

The Stockton facility will compliment the ACX processing facility in Ellensburg, Wash., that utilizes the Seattle and Tacoma ports, and California facilities in Wasco and Wilmington, which use the Long Beach and Los Angeles ports.

The new Stockton facility will load containers that will be shipped to the Port of Oakland via barge. The all-water system is being touted as a way to remove trucks from area highways, thereby cutting pollution.

The Port of Stockton's so-called marine highway project, which also includes barge service to the further-inland West Sacramento port, received a $750,000 grant from the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District just under two weeks ago.

While air quality agencies like SJVAPC typically invest in programs that replace or improve direct sources of pollution, like truck engines, the prospect of eliminating up to 600 truck trips a week from the Oakland-Stockton/West Sacramento route was enough to garner the new funds. The federal government has already pitched in $30 million for the project, which is expected to begin operation in early 2012.
ACX said that it would not have been able to consider Stockton as a location without the benefit of access to the marine highway.