July 16, 2012

A closer look at Agrex

By Elizabeth Becker - NeCGA Communication Intern from Madison, NE

For all 20 years of my life, I have lived within a half mile of Agrex Inc. of Enola. As stated on agrexinc.com, “Agrex Inc. is a full-service foods commodity trading company, handling grain, feed, ingredients, hay, oil seeds, oils, sugar, starches, and salt from origination to marketing to financing and logistics.” The Enola Agrex specifically handles corn and soybeans.

Agrexinc.com goes on to say, “The company- Agrex Inc. is headquartered in Overland Park, KS. The company owns two and leases two terminal grain facilities in Nebraska. These facilities supply grain to the U.S. domestic market, Mexican market, and Pacific Rim markets. Agrex Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Mitsubishi. 90% owned by the Mitsubishi Corporation, Tokyo, Japan and 10% owned by Mitsubishi Corporation, New York. The company’s strength in its alliance with Mitsubishi and its worldwide network of overseas offices located in more than 75 countries providing marketing information, support and numerous trade opportunities. FGDI is a wholly owned subsidiary of Agrex Inc. FGDI has one of the largest farmer’s cooperatives, providing access to large networks of producers in the U.S. markets.”

Darin is showing the inside of a half million bushel bin.
Seiei Ono is the president and CEO of Mitsubishi Corporation (Americas) and Shu Kobayashi is President and COO of Agrex and also CEO of FGDI. These two Japanese gentlemen and a business partner of theirs paid a visit to the Enola Agrex on Monday, July 9.

Darin Koepke, the senior merchandiser at the Enola Agrex, invited my parents, Tom and Diane Becker (farmers in Madison county), to come and visit with Mr. Ono and Mr. Kobayashi so they could hear from local farmers. Upon hearing this request, my parents then asked me to come along, knowing that I would also enjoy meeting the visitors and touring the grain elevator I had passed thousands of times since I was a little girl. I was extremely excited to have this opportunity and immediately accepted the invitation.

Standing on top of the grain bins at Agrex.
Our small group consisting of Darin Koepke, Earl Joy (elevator superintendent), Mr. Ono, Mr. Kobayashi, their business partner, my parents, and I walked in and around grain bins and were eventually asked if we wanted to take the three-person elevator to the top of the bins to see the view. Now I would be lying if I said I didn’t hesitate at the invitation to stand atop a bin 110 feet off the ground, but I convinced myself that the view would be well worth it, and wow, was I ever right.

I stood next to the railing, 110 feet off the ground, in awe, surrounded by the beautiful artwork God had created all around me, snapping what seemed like a million pictures. After we were done enjoying the gorgeous view from on top of the bins, our group then went to one of my dad’s corn fields nearby. The three visitors were very interested in picking ears of corn off of the stalks while listening to my dad explain the many different tactics that he and his brother use to produce corn to its maximum yield.

Listening to Tom Becker explain various planting tactics
that are used to produce corn to its maximum yield.
After the conversation amid the cornstalks, we traveled a short distance to our machine shed in Enola to show the visitors our planter.

They were very intrigued when my dad told them that we do not till the ground before we plant as to keep more moisture and nutrients in the soil to better benefit our crops. Not only did our Japanese guests enjoy the tour while learning a few things, but I did as well! As a farm girl, I thought I knew most of the ins and outs of farming, and most of my dad and uncles strategic plans for crop production, but after the tour and hearing what Darin, my dad, and Earl said, I realized how much I was unaware of.

Here, Tom is showing our guests the planter that
he and his brother use.
I learned that although Agrex is Japanese owned, only 4-6 trains go directly to Japan per year, with a few heading to California for use in ethanol plants. About 65-70% of the corn that gets hauled to Agrex comes from irrigated fields. It takes about four minutes to load a train car with grain and eight hours to load their usual 110 cars.

I loved the experience of meeting all the people that have such a huge influence on the Ag industry. It made me appreciate even more all of the hard work that my dad and all other farmers put in to feed the world. We are so blessed with everything God has given us, and this little experience of mine reminded me of just that.

I’m not only proud, but lucky, to be a farm girl living The Good Life.

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