How Can Farmers Export Grain Out of NC?

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*This project is funded by the NC Small Grain Growers Association in an effort to address the declining wheat acres in the state by exploring potential new markets to sell wheat and create new competitive revenue streams for our growers. This project is not meant to replace existing markets but to enhance wheat production in the state by creating new ones.* – NC Small Grain Growers Association North Carolina Small Grain Growers Association Inc. Logo.

How Can Farmers Export Grain out of the NC Port of Wilmington?

The North Carolina State Ports Authority provides a safe and efficient facility that can move products from the field to the overseas market. In this short video, you are given an inside look into options for exporting grain and what the processes are.

There are three main steps in this process:

Step 1: Containerizing Grain

At this time any grain exported out of the port must be containerized. To accomplish this there are a few options a farmer or elevator can choose. One option is to book the container yourself. An empty container is delivered to your grain facility to be filled. Then you would truck it yourself to the port where the container will be put into to be a stack until it is loaded onto a ship. Another option is to use a transloader. Generally transloaders provide a service where they move freight between multiple transportation modes. In this case the transloader is someone who has the equipment to take the grain from a farm truck and then transfer it into a container.

Step 2: Make a Booking

When it comes to making a booking, companies in the industry can help with logistics. They are called Freight Forwarders and can act on your behalf and book a space for your cargo on your desired ship. These companies often provide a variety of services for shippers – including preparing customs paperwork. Freight Forwarders often specialize in shipments to particular geographies, specific transportation modes, etc. So each freight forwarding company is different and may have different offerings. In general, freight forwarders can tell you how much the process will cost, arrange the trucking, and be as involved as you want them to be in the process.

Step 3: Deliver to Port

When the driver with your filled container arrives, they will be entering a busy terminal area where many other containers are either coming or going. Fortunately, Port of Wilmington offers a fully automated system through their community access portal. This allows the different people involved in this process to input information about their shipments. When the truck arrives, it will be matched with your booking information so the container can be processed through the interchange lanes. After the interchange lanes, the container is moved out to the yards to be stacked and wait for the correct ship to arrive so they can load it. In addition to double-checking the information in the portal is correct before arriving at the port, it is a good idea for drivers to review the checklist available on the port website.

This video is the first in a series being developed by NC State University under the grant project “Advancing Sales and Marketing Opportunities for North Carolina Wheat” led by Dr. Heidi Schweizer, Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist in Agricultural and Resource Economics. Additional videos will include recipes for using locally produced soft red winter wheat and wholesale marketing information for small grain growers. We would like to thank graduate students Laura Schumacher and Yue Shan for their contributions to this video.