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Increased Acreage is Grounds for Expansion

The prospect of expanded cotton acreage on the Northern Plains of Texas this year and in the future could create a demand for additional warehouse facilities at Farmers Cooperative Compress (FCC), headquartered in Lubbock, and its Plainview Division.

“Because of the declining acres of other commodities, new varieties of cotton and chemicals available, there will be additional acres of cotton that we must be prepared to store,” FCC General Manager Ron Harkey says. “We felt we needed to build additional warehouse facilities in Plainview because of the growth potential and the need for another loading facility.”

During the past five years, FCC’s Plainview Division has stored an average of more than 320,000 bales of cotton. A new “dock high” loading facility is being built in Plainview measuring 420 feet long by 200 feet wide with a 20- foot loading dock on one side. Five new warehouses also are being built which will increase storage space at the Plainview Division by 380,000 square feet. With this expansion, the Plainview Division will be capable of storing an additional 70,000 bales of cotton. This will increase Plainview’s total warehousing capacity to 345,000 bales.

The Plainview Division now will have a total of 36 warehouses while FCC’s Lubbock facility currently has 115 warehouses. There will be a total of 1,879,000 square feet of storage in Plainview when the construction is complete. This will give a total of 7,614,420 square feet of warehouse storage between the two compress locations. The construction of the new facilities is expected to be complete by Nov. 1, 1999.

FCC and PCC combined their efforts after a merger became effective July 1, 1997. Cooperative mergers are designed to provide improved services and increased earnings potential for their members, and the FCC/PCC union will continue to progress and meet these goals with the additional warehouse facilities.

“The ability to better utilize our storage is the real benefit of the merger,” Harkey states. Much of the cotton stored at FCC’s Lubbock facility comes from dryland areas, and the majority of cotton that is transported to and stored at Plainview is irrigated.

“The timing of the merger made sense for both compresses because we were both very strong financially,” Harkey says. “It also has helped to reduce operating costs.”

One good example is the merger allowed us to shift one Plainview gin location to Lubbock in 1998, which kept more than 40,000 bales from being stored outside, Harkey says. The additional cost of handling yard-stored cotton is $3 per bale, plus yard bales must be relocated to warehouses within 10 days if they go into the loan.

Harkey acknowledges the merger as a success that has allowed positive changes to take place for both compresses. After two years, the union of FCC and PCC has saved approximately $400,000, he says.

As of June 30,1999, FCC will have received and shipped 41,650,000 bales of cotton and returned $405,800,000 to its members since 1948 when the cooperative was chartered. These numbers and the fact that FCC has the capability of storing 1.4 million bales under roof qualifies it as the largest cotton warehouse in the world.