Heartland Cooperative Opens Super Mill in Owen

Heartland Co-op

Contributed by Heartland Co-op – Heartland Cooperative Services has known for a long time that its current line of feed mills is aging and in need of major overhauls. In studying the options for solving this problem, the Board of Directors considered the possibility of having one new super mill that would replace the older aging mills. This option made sense if the new mill was located on a major rail line, such as the CN line that ran through Owen.

Heartland Co-op

Another factor in considering the future of our mills was the successful annual growth of our non-GMO and organic feed lines. It was determined that each of these should be manufactured in specific separate mills to reduce any possibility of cross contamination.

After reviewing all the options, the Board of Directors decided to pursue the construction of a super mill. They, along with Heartland Cooperative Services Senior Management hired Agra Business of Merrill to help design the new facility. The next step for senior management was to acquire the right parcel of land that would meet the needs and goals of the new mill.

The senior management team was able to acquire a parcel of land in Owen, WI with an existing 60,000 sq. ft. warehouse and another 15,000 sq. ft shed nestled on approximately 25 acres of land, next to the CN main-rail and only a mile from the well-traveled highway 29 corridor for a fraction of the original asking price. An additional benefit of this acquisition is its location right next to Heartland’s Owen fertilizer plant.

With the location and facilities acquired, senior management negotiated a contract with the City of Owen in which the city gave Heartland approximately $1,350,000 in cash combined with over $750,000 in more economic assistance. These funds will be used for the new super mill’s railroad spur, office and retail complex. The city’s investment dollars will be recovered through their TIF District’s property taxes that Heartland will pay on its investment. In addition to these funds, Heartland Cooperative acquired approximately $250,000 in additional assistance from the state of Wisconsin, in the form of TEA (Transportation Economic Assistance) & WEDC (Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation) Grants. These grants are designed to assist small communities with economic development and do not have to be repaid.

Capabilities of the New Super Mill:

Heartland’s new Super Mill has approximately 2,400 tons of overhead storage combined with 140,000 bushels of outside grain storage that can be filled via truck OR rail dumping pits and roughly 40,000 sq. ft. of warehouse space for its production capabilities.
The mill itself is built on an approximately 50 feet X 50 feet concrete base 20+ feet in the ground with towers stretching 188 feet into the air, with the American flag proudly displayed at the top!

This main-mill-structure is surrounded by a Butler steel building that encompasses the loading and un-loading areas for the semis and quads. With the assistance of Repete’s ™ state-of-the-art computer automated control system the mill is able to dump a load of feed about every 3 minutes with pin point accuracy. The system includes 8 different scales weighing and dropping feed and feed-ingredients into the legs and mixers all at the same time to maximize manufacturing speed.

Moving Forward:

This new mill is currently built for 200,000 tons of feed manufacturing per year and is designed and constructed for future expansion by simply bolting on additional overhead bins. The 25-acre parcel also leaves ample room for expansion in other areas as well. Anticipated future growth includes the addition of more grain bins for shipping and receiving, adding another 7,000 to 10,000 tons of fertilizer storage, a re-fueling site and more. Plus, we will have the capacity to hold over 50 railroad cars on the spurs to be built.

Special Thanks:

We would like to offer special thanks to the City of Owen for welcoming Heartland Co-op with open arms. We have formed a tight bond with them that will last many years to come. Thanks also to the State of Wisconsin for their financial support with their grants, and to the Board of Directors and all customers/patrons that utilize all the services provided by Heartland Cooperative Services!

Progress Update:

Effective as of August 21st, we have finally got all of our delineations completed, all the Phase 1 and Phase 2 Environmental studies are completed as well as the archeological study and the storm water study. We also have our site grading permits and our erosion control permits issued for the last portions of this large project which include; the west side eighty-five stall parking lot, holding pond, the rail spurs, rail switches, rail culvert, and related supporting projects. We are currently waiting for the VPLE (Voluntary Party Liability) insurance policy to be issued to the city.