Farmer's Coop changes Hemingford's skyline

Construction on Bin B40 began at the beginning of this year and has changed the skyline of Hemingford. The 919,000 bushel capacity grain bin is one of two projects structures that are going up at Farmer’s Cooperative.

Watching the new grain bin at Farmer’s Co-op climb higher and higher has been something that no doubt every citizen has been doing since the beginning of the year, but especially these past couple of months. The massive bin has forever changed the skyline of the Village of Hemingford. What a perfect way to celebrate the 100th year serving patrons primarily in northwest Nebraska and southwest South Dakota.

Watching history unravel before your eyes is always a fun experience, especially one that stands for such growth and prosperity in our area. The B40 Bin project is a 919,000 bushel capacity grain expansion project for the Hemingford based cooperative..

Stats on the new bin include:

  • 3,869 yards of 4000 and 4500 psi concrete - includes the deep foundation piers
  • Approximately 1,000,000 lbs of Grade 60 and Grade 75 reinforcing steel – includes deep foundation piers
  • Approximately 280,000 lbs of structural steel
  • Approximately 3,100 tons of structural fill material

Currently it is around 90 feet tall and could potentially be completed by August 1. The bin will be 130 feet tall upon completion, 30 feet taller than the adjacent bins.

The new bin will have grain temperature sensing capability and aeration, and is intended to expand the Co-op’s grain operations and merchandising abilities. It will also decrease the risk associated with piling grain on the ground in temporary storage.

“Basically we’re going to double our storage capacity on the east side of the track,” Bart Moseman, Farmer’s Co-op general manager said. “The small bins that are part of the annex will hold maybe 35,000-40,000 bushels. In 2014 we built bins 61 and 62 and those are both 500,000 bushel bins.”

The bins here in Hemingford hold mostly corn, wheat, millet, and a little bit of soy beans.

“Since 2010, just on grain storage, we’ve built over five million bushels of storage space, one million gallons of liquid fertilizer space, and 10 thousand tons of dry shed storage space. There are two five thousand ton dry shed storage sheds, one here and one in Gordon.”

Although headquartered here in Hemingford, Farmers Cooperative Elevator Company has branch locations in Gordon and Hay Springs.

“Feed mill in Gordon and quite a bit of storage plus a pretty sizable agronomy operation,” Moseman said.

Farmer’s Co-op has been able to maintain business for the past 100 years because of their willingness to evolve and grow as needed.

Regarding the growth over the past ten years, Moseman said, “One of the reasons is the dynamics of the market. If you go back to 2007 there was an ethanol boom so it really drove up corn acreage. If you go back 15 years the panhandle of Nebraska was a corn deficit area. There would be wheat going by trucks going east to the mills and they would be bringing corn back. Well today we ship out multiple shuttles of corn down to Texas and into Mexico. We are in a corn surplus area now where we actually ship more out than in. That has changed a lot and has driven up the need for an increased size in space as far as grain handling.”

“It also has driven up the need for increased fertilizer. If you look at an irrigated acre of wheat verse an irrigated acre of corn there’s going to be more fertilizer on the corn than the wheat. We’re also seeing improvement in the seed technology so dry land corn has really increased in this area. 15 years ago dry land was a wheat/fallow rotation, that’s all that guy would do. Now you’ve got wheat, corn, sunflower rotation. Some guys aren’t even using a fallow.”

“With these farming practices the farmers are able to get more yield out of an acre. When they have more yield they are going to need more input and when there’s more input they have to replenish the nutrients that are taken out.”

As for this year’s crop, “I think beans, wheat… well everything will be at risk if we don’t have a long enough season,” Moseman said.

“The concern now is this corn crop got put in pretty late. We’re well behind where we were a year ago or what we would consider average. Our growing days are short and heat units are down. We have a concern that when we get to harvest we are going to run out of time, the crop is not mature enough which make lighter test weight corn. Last year we had a bumper yield situation with lots of heat in the summer and this year we just have not had that. Hopefully we get that heat in July but it’s just been too cold, not enough sunshine.”

“There’s not a whole lot they can do about it. They have done all that they could do to get it into the ground so it’s just up to the sun. I think the wheat looks pretty good but we kind of have the same thing going and it will be a later harvest. With that there’s more risk of hail event so everybody will be on pins and needles and hoping that they can actually get a crop out.”

Along with the bin project they are also working on the installation of a new dryer. It is located between the tracks close to the bins that were built in 2014.

“We took the dryer out a couple of years ago. Everything had been disconnected and I believe the last time it was used was maybe the mid ‘90s. There just hasn’t been really a need for a dryer,” Moseman said. “With the climate we are in and with the amount and variety of corn there just hasn’t been a need for a variety. The last five years or so we always thought that we maybe could have used one then the last couple of years we really felt that we needed one so we decided to go ahead and put one in this year.”

“From a merchandising perspective we can’t load out any corn trains during harvest. Because of moisture we have to load 15 percent so if we are getting an average of 17-18 percent in there’s just no way we can load train. So we are headed in the direction of being able to load trains during harvest. Also we spend a lot of money on aeration fans trying to keep grain in the condition so if we can dry it down as it comes in and then store it in our bins we won’t need as much air on it throughout the fall, winter, and spring.”

A little history on Farmer’s Cooperative Elevator Company:

“In 1918 and 1919, a group of community-minded men came to the conclusion that a grain elevator in Hemingford was a necessity and would provide an outlet for grain being raised there. It was decided to build the elevator of tile construction with a capacity of around 30,000 bushels. The Board of Directors elected to serve were: President, George Taylor; Secretary, George E. Schneider; Directors, Fred Leavitt, Ross Enyeart and Ike Wood; Temporary Manager was Alex Muirhead.

At the beginning a share was $100. August 17, 1940 at a special meeting of stockholders, Bylaws and Articles were amended and approved showing shares being $25 and capital stock $35,000.

In June 1946, the stockholders approved the construction of a concrete elevator with a capacity of 100,000 to 220,000 bushels, costing $250,000. By 1959 additions of storage tanks were approved making a total storage capacity of 1,000,000 bushels.

By 1963 there were a total of 834 stockholders. A burning of the mortgage was held June 12, 1963 at the annual meeting.

Since then, a fertilizer plant was built in 1967. Farmers Union Oil Co and Farmer’s Coop merged in 1976. In 1980 the lumber yard was sold. Two different years there were two different fires: the general office burned in 1984 and the Hagemeister elevator burned in 2008. Farmer’s Coop merged with Ag Pro in 1997, adding locations in Gordon, Rushville and Hay Springs. Then the fuel and service stations were sold to Westco in 2005 leaving Farmer’s Coop locations in Gordon, Hay Springs, and Hemingford. We currently serve a large trade territory as well as 1,675 stockholders.

Our efficient railroad load-out facility, which is a 110 car BNSF shuttle loader, loads grain in 10 hours and ships nationally as well as internationally. We currently have enclosed storage capacity for 7.9 million bushels of grain.

Our fertilizer division is able to meet your fertilizer needs with liquid and dry storage units at each of our locations.

With a new feed mill and bagger, our feed division is able to mix and bag specialty feeds on order, as well as our own line of feed called Western Choice.

From the beginning there have been many trials and tribulations as well as additions and accomplishments. New buildings, storage tanks, feed manufacturing facilities, trucks; sprayers, etc. have all been built and added to aid stockholders and area producers to achieve their goals through the combined effort that is your cooperative. Several fires as well as mergers and departed services have changed the face of Farmer’s Coop. Yet with knowledge, commitment and success we will continue to be the premier regional supplier and marketer of Ag related services and products.”

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