Study says agriculture largest user of transportation in U.S.

By Keith Boles - bio | email feedback

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - According to a report recently released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, nearly half of all freight transportation in America is used for agriculture.

The four primary methods are truck, rail, barge and ocean transportation.

In Region 8 there is direct connection with rail, truck and barge. Many of the products hauled eventually wind up being shipped on the ocean.

Riceland Foods in Jonesboro directly uses 3 of the 4 every day

Over the course of a year the Jonesboro plant will bring in and ship out around 30 Thousand truck loads of rice.

The loaded trucks roll in, the empty trucks roll out past other trucks and rail cars waiting to leave loaded with finished products.

"Milled Rice products, we also ship a lot of brewers along with rice bran and rice hulls."

Richard Rorex is a Vice President for Rice Milling and Engineering at Riceland in Jonesboro.

Rorex, "Essentially 100 % of the product coming into the facility is transported into here on bulk hopper trucks. After we've processed it we use rail cars and bulk trucks as well as van type trailers. We have between 30 and 35 locations around Eastern Arkansas and the Bootheel of Missouri where we actually receive rice from farmers during and after the harvest."

Between those loads already dried, and fresh from the fields; It keeps the plant busy all year long often working around the clock.

Although a long way from the Mississippi in Jonesboro and Stuttgart both mills fill a lot of barges.

From Jonesboro they will fill about 40 river barges on the Mississippi.They also have a mill at Marston, Missouri.

Rorex, "Which is sitting right on the river and we will fill anywhere from 60 to 80 barges out of that facility."

Of course much of that rice is transported to ocean ports to be sent all over the world by either bulk or shipping containers.

Rorex, "It's typically in the neighborhood of 30 percent export. 70% domestic."

Before large grain trucks were common, silos stood beside railroad tracks. Riceland Jonesboro is serviced by both Union Pacific and Burlington Northern Santa Fe. Rorex says he doesn't know whether that was by plan or coincidence but it gives them options as far as shipping product out. And he says it fills a historic pattern.

Rorex. "I don't know that I've ever seen a rice mill that was built anywhere besides right beside a railroad track."

Ag transportation, used to feed the world.

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