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New port elevator looks to bring in millions

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BATON ROUGE - Upgrades at the Port of Baton Rouge could spell millions of dollars more flowing into the area.

Pointe Coupee farmer George Lacour has grown soybean his entire life. While surveying the new grain elevator at the Port of Baton Rouge, he said the upgrades mean the future of his business is looking bright.

"This is a great day for farmers from Baton Rouge to Shreveport," he said. "Bring huge increase in prices to Louisiana farmers."

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Tuesday, celebrating the completion of the $150 million investment by Louis Dreyfus commodities.

"Louisiana offers a great wealth of economic opportunities for companies that ship agriculture products all over the world," Governor Bobby Jindal said at the ceremony.

The elevator has the capacity to unload 24 barges of grain per day, loading that product directly onto vessels bound for foreign markets.

"It doesn't do us a bit of good with products we have if we can't ship and sell," said Mike Strain, Louisiana commissioner of Agriculture.

Tired of having to transport their product downriver, Lacour said two years ago local farmers banded together in an unprecedented move.

"Over 50 farmers came here one night and demanded port commissioners look into changing tenants," Lacour said.

Now those farmers can load onto ships much closer to home. And area farmers like Lacour look to save big bucks: the LSU AgCenter estimates that farmers statewide will see combined sales increases of up to $20 million per year.

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