PNW infrastructure’s vital role in global grain markets [Video]

CGI's Kurt Haarmann shares how a reliable, consistent transportation network benefits Pacific northwestern grain growers and shippers.

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Elise Schafer, editor of Feed & Grain: Hi, everyone, and welcome to Feed & Grain Chat. I'm your host Elise Schafer, editor of Feed & Grain. This edition of Feed & Grain Chat is brought to you by WATT Global Media and is your source for the latest news, product and equipment information for the grain handling and feed manufacturing industries.

Today I'm joined on zoom by Kurt Haarmann, senior vice president grain division for CGI. He's here to discuss transportation infrastructure and the Pacific Northwest. Hi, Kurt. How are you?

Kurt Haarmann, senior vice president grain division of CGI: Hi, Elise, great. Thanks for having me.

Schafer: Yeah, thanks for joining me today. Let's get right into it. I know a lot of our viewers are familiar with infrastructure issues along the Mississippi River, but what can you tell us about transportation infrastructure, like bridges and export facilities, in the Pacific Northwest?

Haarmann: Sure. The Pacific Northwest is fed by railroads, of course BNSF and Union Pacific, as well as the Columbia and Snake River barge system. And exports out of the Pacific Northwest occur both on the Columbia River and out of Puget Sound. Now, the Columbia River has access to the barge system, Puget Sound is not, it's rail only. We are a much smaller system in terms of a river system than the Mississippi, but it's a very timely, predictable and cost efficient means to ship grain.

Schafer: Now, what role does the PNW's infrastructure and transportation network play in marketing grain both domestically and globally? 

Haarmann: The grain transportation system really is a key to a reliable export program. It provides efficient transportation for our growers to get their goods to market and consistent reliable service is really important to building a big export book and being able to run these large terminals at full capacity.

Schafer: And how about from a risk management perspective? How does transportation fit in the picture for CGI and grain elevators and shippers in the PNW?

Haarmann: It's a it's a real challenge in terms of that reliability. Consistency is key. At Columbia Grain we own and operate 14 shuttle loaders across the northern tier of the United States, as well as to barge loading terminals on the Columbia and Snake Rivers. And having that consistent supply of transportation available and predictable transit times is really key to operating both our interior assets and with our export JV partners out here on the coast.

Schafer: Wonderful. Well, thank you for your insights today, Kurt.

Haarmann: Yeah, happy to be here. Thanks for having me.

Schafer: Absolutely. That’s all for today's Feed & Grain Chat. If you'd like to see more videos like this, subscribe to our YouTube channel. Sign up for the Industry Watch daily eNewsletter or go to and search for videos. Thank you again for watching and we hope to see you next time!