Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Vancouver USA Port Inks Agriculture Deal

By Mark Edward Nero

Port of Vancouver USA CEO Todd Coleman traveled to Fargo, North Dakota Aug. 27 to sign a contract with that state’s agriculture commissioner that allows the port to provide dedicated rail service to move North Dakota agricultural products west in would-be empty railcars returning from eastbound shipments.

“The Port of Vancouver will lease blocks of railcars to move products,” Coleman explained. “This means more cars are available, reliability is increased and North Dakota farmers remain competitive in the global market.”

Cargoes are already moving by rail East from the Pacific Northwest, but those railcars often return West without cargo. The new rail service attempts to introduce more control and efficiency into the process by allowing the port to lease railcars to carry those eastbound cargoes.

Once the eastbound cargoes have been delivered, the port and its logistics partners will fill cars with agricultural products for the return trip to Vancouver.

The port’s responsibilities under the contract include designating load centers, managing railcars and providing monthly service reports.

“We’re looking at moving the first full railcars back to Vancouver as early as mid-September,” Coleman said.

The port is working with BNSF Railway to provide the service and eventually expand to unit trains if demand grows.

Bulk agricultural products are one of the port’s key service areas, and grain is its top export by weight. Nearly 1.4 million tons of wheat moved through the port on its way to markets in the Pacific Rim during the first half of 2014.