Hello! My name is Emma Smith, I am currently a sophomore at Illinois State University with a double major in Animal Science and Agribusiness. I am from Seneca, Illinois where I grew up on a diversified grain and livestock operation. I am blessed to have been selected as a recipient of the GFAI Industry Immersion Scholarship. This scholarship is unique in the sense that it not only provides recipients with financial resources, but also with resources that allow students to connect with the grain industry in a unique way. Before the current school year began, my fellow scholarship recipients and I experienced the Industry Immersion Tour, where we were given the opportunity to visit and experience different grain facilities throughout the state. During these three days we were able to network with both each other and professionals within the industry, develop a deeper understanding and appreciation for the grain industry in Illinois, and have the opportunity to be exposed to what happens to the grain once it is unloaded at the elevator.
Speaking of the elevator, in addition to the Industry Immersion Tour we took in August, each recipient is able to shadow a grain facility in the fall and spring. I was fortunate to be paired with Consolidated Grain and Barge Co. (CGB) in Dwight, which is about a half an hour from my home. At the office, I met with Facility Manager, Ryan Tucker, who explained the main purpose and goals of CGB’s Dwight location and how the rail system is a key factor to the success of their operation. I had the unique opportunity to watch as a train was being filled with grain before it headed to the Southeastern part of the United States. As we watched the train be loaded, I was given valuable information about the different rail systems that are utilized, the importance of loading cars in a timely manner, and how organic grain is handled differently than non-organic grain. I also watched how each semi was probed and sampled before entering the facility. We experienced quite a bit of this during our Industry Immersion Tour, but it is always interesting to see the different ways different operations go about this process. While the train was loading, I was able to sit in on a weekly safety call with the general manager, the assistant general manager, the group manager, and several facility managers throughout Illinois. It was quite refreshing to witness managers be so concerned about the safety of their facilities and the wellbeing of their employees. Following the meeting, I was walked through the billing process of the train that was being filled, which can also be applied to train containers - which are what is being filled if a train is not present. I was then fortunate enough to meet with Senior Merchandiser, Sam Sardesai, who walked me through his day-to-day duties. We discussed how important it was to build a relationship with the local producers, rather than just being focused on the dollars and cents of the operation. Mr. Sardesai informed me that the facility was able to come haul the grain of producers if they did not have the equipment to do so, and the scales had the dimensions to fit a tractor hauling two wagons. I thought this was awesome because it creates such a convenient experience for the producers. We then discussed how risk was being managed within an operation. CGB provides solutions such as, but not limited to, floor/ceiling target, precision reports that compare predicted/actual costs in order to predict for the upcoming years, and selling a certain percentage of the crop - all to ensure that the farmer is not in a high risk situation. I was incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to work with CGB’s Dwight location. From even just the short amount of time I was there, I was able to tell they are an operation that truly cares about the producers and I am excited to continue this experience in the spring!
Grain & Feed Association of Illinois
3521 Hollis Dr.