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Agricore takes heat over loss of Nampa grain elevators

The recent demolition of a pair of grain terminals in Nampa by Agricore proved to be a hot topic at the M.D. of Smoky River No. 130’s regular council meeting last Wednesday.
Leading the discussion for the municipality was Councillor Louis Tokarz who wanted answers from Agricore officials in attendance regarding the rumoured sale of the elevators to Great Northern Grain prior to their demolition.
“I guess what I’d like to know is this, was there any attempt to sell thse two elevators in Nampa?” he asked.
Geoff Ludkin, member and crop services representative for Agricore, confirmed that Great Northern Grain did submit a proposal to purchase the elevators, but added that due to confidentiality, he could not go into great detail about the offer.
That sparked a reaction by Councillor Victor Begin, who questioned why Agricore would decline an offer to make money as opposed to shouldering the costs of demolition.
“Why didn’t you sell them?” he asked Ludkin. “It makes no sense to spend money tearing them down when you could be selling them. Don’t you realize that it’s the farmers’ money you’re playing with?”
Many councillors felt the real meat and potatoes of the matter was that Agricore did not want to do anything which would support the competition and jeopardize their bottom line.
Ludkin, however, emphasized that was not the case at all, adding Agricore had it’s own reasons for passing up on the offer.
While he failed to comment on the financial aspects of the proposal, he did say Agricore felt uncomfortable getting involved in a deal which was based on long-term payments as opposed to one lump sum.
“That would be like me going up to you and offering to buy your farm, but I’m not going to give you anything up front,” he replied. You don’t know if you can trust me.”
Coun. Begin said he hadn’t heard of one example in Alberta where an Agricore elevator was salvaged.
“When did Agricore sell an elevator in Alberta. You didn’t, you’ve destroyed them all,” he said.
Ludkin said every effort is made by Agricore to try and sell the elevators, using Rycroft, St. Albert, Paradise Valley, Big Valley and Meeting Creek as prime examples of elevators which were sold by Agricore, thus avoiding the wrecking ball.
He added the demolition process is only used as a last resort once all efforts to sell them have been exhausted.
“That kind of an expense really makes a difference in our bottom line,” he said. “Personally, I think we’re doing the right thing by closing down the elevators, even though I’ll admit nobody likes to see it happen.”