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Corn Country


What’s in those stacks? The answer may surprise you. A block of K Line containers pass the Elburn Co-op at Meredith, Illinois, adjacent to the Union Pacific Geneva Sub. This co-op trucks containers loaded with grain to BNSF Logistics Park Chicago located south of Joliet at Elwood.


facility for containers strategically moving to and from Midwestern desti- nations.


Containers In, Containers Out


The C&NW carried a good amount of intermodal traffic historically, espe- cially on its piggyback trains called Falcons. Intermodal still plays a big role on the UP, and containers are a big part of the scene around Rochelle out in the middle of farm country. At first glance one might not think of contain- ers as being related to agriculture. However grains such as corn and soy- beans, and grain products such as soy- bean meal can be loaded as a back haul


commodity into containers for export. The great bulk of shipping containers coming from Asia return empty as cur- rently more consumer goods are im- ported than exported. This new grain loading could help balance that uneven flow of trade. A 2006 feasibility study by the State


of Illinois looked at currently underuti- lized Global 3 to be a major hub for han- dling shipping containers loaded with soybeans and corn. Global 3 is well be- low projected capacity of 750,000 annu- al lifts and could easily accommodate significant lifts related to agricultural products. Its location and great high- way access make it a very usable facili-


ty for getting grain to market in con- tainers on rail. Two countries that are major sources


of loaded shipping containers coming into the U.S. for unloading are Taiwan and China. Taiwan, along with Mexico, South Korea, and Egypt, is one of the largest customers for U.S. corn, with Japan being the number one consumer. China loads about three quarters of the world’s containers and purchases about 40 per cent of U.S. soybeans and soy- bean meal, which is first ahead of Japan, Mexico, Taiwan, and Indonesia. Most of these exports of corn and soy- beans are made in bulk vessels. How- ever, containers have a few advantages


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