After my recipe post last week, Porcupine Meatballs, I decided it was time to do a post on where the grain from our farm goes after harvest. Some people (please don’t take this personally you aren’t the only one) assume that much of our grain is imported while the truth is much is exported to other countries. A couple of my friends in the upper Midwest have also compiled similar posts. The interesting thing is that the grain we grow has totally different endpoints.
I had done some research on where our wheat goes after we harvest it. My brother works for a large grain company that sells grain around the world. He helped me fill in the gaps.
We keep some of our wheat for seed for the next year. We plant it for both pasture for our cattle to graze over the winter and for grain for the next year. The Farmer’s cousin has a “seed cleaner” which separates any foreign material and weed seeds out of the grain before we plant it.
Most of our wheat is loaded onto semi-trucks and delivered to a port on the Arkansas River near Tulsa, OK. From this port, the grain is loaded on a barge and shipped to New Orleans, LA. My brother told me from there most of the Hard Red Winter Wheat (which is what we raise in southern Kansas) is loaded onto what they call a “Grocery Boat.” These boats have 4-5 holds that can carry up to 3000-5000 metric tons in each. He said most of the time each hold will have a different commodity. He also informed me that most of the Hard Red Winter Wheat that leaves New Orleans goes to Central America.
Like wheat, we also keep some of our corn, but not for seed instead we feed it to our cows. We like to feed our cows what we grow since it is convenient and we know how it was grown. Feeding our calves a quality diet is just like feeding our kids a quality diet.
Most of our corn again is hauled by semi-truck to Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma feed mills that produce feed for poultry. Even though the feed mills are in different states, they really are not very far apart. We sell our corn to Tyson and Simmons Foods and I am sure that you have probably eaten some of their poultry products. For a little about my friend who grows for Tyson check out this previous post "What's Your Sign."
In Kansas, we are on the line between where some of our neighbors take their soybeans to “local” processors that crush the soybeans into oil and soybean meal. When I say local, I mean these plants are still 100 miles from our farm. We typically ship our soybeans south again to the barge terminal on the Arkansas River near Tulsa which is also about 100 miles and typically has a better price.
I guess I never realized that we are more of a global producer than some of our friends in the upper Midwest. We have even raised and marketed beef that was eligible for export due to our record keeping on each calf. When someone says that 1 American farmer feeds 155 people around the world, I truly take it to heart and am proud of what our family accomplishes each year.
Corn and Soybeans
2 types of corn, 2 types of soybeans, popcorn and wheat
-A Kansas Farm Mom