2005 Looks Like Good Year
by Associated Press
Snohomish County PUD's power supplier faces higher costs for salmon protection.
PORTLAND, Ore. -- Oregon grain merchants are projecting shipments of 3.7 million tons this year from the Port of Portland, making 2005 among the biggest years for wheat exports in decades.
Continuing demand from Asia has fueled the boom; in October alone, Portland grain merchant Columbia Grain Inc. loaded about 475,000 tons of wheat.
Columbia Grain unloads about 24,000 rail cars and 350 barges of domestic wheat annually from states as far away as Kansas, then ships it to ports from Japan to Africa. (bluefish calculates: 24,000 rail cars x 100 tons/rail car = 2.4 million tons, 350 barges x 3500 tons/barge = 1.23 million tons)
The exported wheat has increased employment for longshoremen and others. The Port of Portland is already the leading wheat exporter in the country, and a 28 percent volume increase over two years has partially eased the sting of losing more lucrative container traffic to larger ports.
Volume at the Port also increased this year when an explosion shut down operations at a Port of Vancouver grain elevator between late May and mid-October, shifting exports to other ports.
Pendleton wheat farmer Sherman Reese said higher export volumes are encouraging but haven't resulted in better prices for growers.
"In terms of what we've seen up-country, there hasn't been much effect," Reese said.
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