Gov. Jindal and Louis Dreyfus cut ribbon at grain facility

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen
Gov. Bobby Jindal at the ribbon cutting in Port Allen. Photo by

Governor Bobby Jindal, Louis Dreyfus Commodities Chairperson Margarita Louis-Dreyfus and Executive Director Jay Hardman of the Port of Greater Baton Rouge joined other leaders to dedicate the upgraded grain and oilseed export elevator at the port. Louis Dreyfus Commodities completed a $150 million capital investment to expand and modernize the grain facility.

Louis Dreyfus Commodities retained 23 jobs already in place at the port and created 37 new direct jobs. LED estimates the project will result in another 32 new indirect jobs, for a total of 69 new jobs. An additional 100 construction jobs were created during the expansion.

Governor Jindal said, "This expansion by Louis Dreyfus Commodities is great news for Baton Rouge and our entire state. The modernized facility will provide more economic opportunities for our farmers and serves as proof that our strong business climate, world-class shipping infrastructure and skilled workforce are making Louisiana one of the best places in the world to do business. The Mississippi River has always made the greater Baton Rouge area an attractive location for international trade and agriculture shipping, and with the help of Louis Dreyfus Commodities, we'll be able to share more of our farmers' hard work with the entire world."

With the improvements, the grain facility will be able to process 5 million metric tons of grains and oilseeds annually. The new barge unloader will have the capacity to discharge 20 to 24 barges per day, with annual unloads of up to 4,000 barges. The upgrades include a new dock capable of loading a vessel holding up to 60,000 metric tons of product. The new dock will be able to load a vessel at a rate of 100,000 bushels per hour, and unload bushels at a rate of 80,000 per hour.

"Port Allen will be our flagship export facility on the Mississippi River and a major part of our North American export program, bringing local products to world markets," said CEO Mikael Mörn of Louis Dreyfus Commodities for North America. "We will start moving product immediately through the terminal, and are positioning ourselves to sustain and expand our leading presence within the grains and oilseeds export landscape in the U.S."

The port and its facilities are state-owned, and Louis Dreyfus Commodities is leasing the port grain facilities for 20 years, with the option for an additional 10-year lease period. Louis Dreyfus Commodities obtained the lease in a competitive process after making a commitment to upgrade the grain elevator and dock. The upgraded facilities will allow for more local crops and products to be distributed to international markets. The company plans additional upgrades and hiring at the port in the future.

"The Louis Dreyfus Commodities flagship export elevator at the Port of Greater Baton Rouge will be the most modern grain elevator on the Mississippi River," said Jay Hardman, Executive Director of the Port of Greater Baton Rouge. "This facility will provide Louisiana farmers with more access to international markets for their agricultural products, and it signals a new stage in the growth and development of the port. The additional ships, barges and trucks unloading and loading cargo at the port is economically beneficial in many ways. It will increase maritime activity, attract additional companies to the port region, and provide much-needed jobs for longshoreman, barge lines and oceangoing vessels."

LED began working with the port on economic analysis and project support for the grain facilities in 2011. Louis Dreyfus Commodities is expected to utilize the state's Quality Jobs incentive in conjunction with the project.

Louis Dreyfus Group is a global company headquartered in Paris and involved in agriculture, oil, energy and commodities. Its commodities business unit operates as Louis Dreyfus Commodities. Its companies operate in more than 53 countries, employing 35,000 people across the globe. The Louis Dreyfus Group is considered one of the "big four" global food trading companies in the world, competing with Archer Daniels Midland, Bunge Limited and Cargill Inc.

"We're awfully excited for the opening on the renovated grain elevator at the port," said Riley Berthelot, West Baton Rouge Parish President. "The upgrades to the grain facility will not only impact us, but the whole state and the country. Louis Dreyfus Commodities' investment in the port is not only a good sign for the economy, but a good sign for our farmers as well."

"We have been anxiously watching the Louis Dreyfus Commodities' construction on the River at the Greater Port of Baton Rouge. The construction of this ship loading and barge unloading capabilities, through this LDC's project, will greatly benefit our Louisiana agriculture growers," said Kathy Stuart, Executive Director of the West Baton Rouge Chamber of Commerce. "It's a great day for our parish, our region and our state. The West Baton Rouge Chamber is proud of our partnership with the Port of Greater Baton Rouge. The port is what makes our region unique. We share in the port's vision to expand their role as an economic development driver for our parish and South Louisiana."

"BRAC congratulates Louis Dreyfus Commodities on their updated facilities and expansion announcement. The Port of Greater Baton Rouge is an invaluable asset for our region and this upgrade further strengthens this asset," said Adam Knapp, President and CEO of the Baton Rouge Area Chamber. "BRAC looks forward to working with the port and its partners to utilize the new facility as we market our region as a prime location for business."

"The opening of this port facility is a real opportunity for agricultural producers in our state and across the country, as it will bring their products to international markets," said President Ronnie Anderson, Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation. "Louis Dreyfus Commodities has done a tremendous job in upgrading the port and helping to bring out its full potential. It's a win-win for agriculture, the Louisiana economy, the city of Baton Rouge, and the entire country."