After more than a year of construction, a $27 million Heartland Cooperative grain elevator and storage facility on the east edge of Fairfield, Iowa, is in full operation. The operation shipped its first trainload of grain last week.

A 112-car train was loaded with southeast Iowa corn in just under 15 hours and headed off to Swanson, Calif. Todd Phillips, the company’s executive vice president for grain and risk management, told the Fairfield Ledger newspaper that the 448,000 bushels of corn would be used for livestock feed, mainly cattle and dairies in the San Joaquin Valley.

With the newly installed 10,000-foot rail loop siding off of the Burlington Northern-Southwest main line, trains will normally be hauling Iowa grain west and south to California, Texas and Mexico. The majority of rail shipping east on the main line is western coal headed to coal-fired utilities in the east.  

This new Heartland Cooperative facility has the capability of storing 4.4 million bushels of grain in its 8 steel bins and two concrete towers. The facility has two dump pits for unloading trucks and wagons.  Semi trucks can off load in less than 5 minutes, officials noted.

The grain elevator accepted its first load of grain in July. Farmers in east central and southeast Iowa have had no local option for selling to a facility with volume rail shipping. This construction was a greenfield project where no previous structures existed.