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Ag Monthly | Quincy aims to be ‘inland port’ for global shipping

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A shipping container is loaded onto a rail car last year at the Port of Quincy's Intermodal Terminal.

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Quincy aims to be ‘inland port’ for global shipping

QUINCY — Imagine this … trucks haul shipping containers to Quincy. Trains tote those same containers to ships in Seattle. Those ships deliver the containers to Pacific markets.

Sounds simple, right? But this shipping idea — now percolating among national truck, rail and steamship companies — could ease cross-mountain transport complicated by fickle winter road conditions and Puget Sound’s extreme traffic congestion.

It’s an old idea that’s gaining new traction,” said Patrick Boss, spokesman for the Port of Quincy. “And we’re ready to go. We’ve got the facilities ready to start tomorrow.”

Informal talks are underway, said Boss, to transform the Port of Quincy’s mostly-idle shipping terminal into an “inland port” for delivering trucked containers by rail to West Coast docks.

Quincy port officials touted the proposal last week as one solution for reducing traffic congestion, speeding deliveries, increasing shipped quantities, shrinking carbon footprints and boosting investment in warehouses, storage yards and peripheral ag and shipping services

As proposed, trucks from around eastern Washington and beyond would deliver containers loaded with dry goods — hay, beans, corn, wheat and other grains — to Quincy’s Intermodal Terminal, where they’d be loaded onto westbound trains.

The Intermodal Terminal is a shipping transfer hub formerly used to deliver Washington State fruit and produce by rail to Midwest markets. That service ended in 2014 with the terminal now sitting idle most days. Waste Management has proposed using the terminal as a rail-to-truck transfer site for trash headed from western Washington to the Greater Wenatchee Regional Landfill near Pangborn Memorial Airport.

Boss said the latest shipping proposal surfaced in February when representatives of the Northwest Seaport Alliance, a partnership of the ports of Seattle and Tacoma, gave a presentation to ag and shipping managers in central Washington on the value of establishing one or more inland ports. Facilities in Quincy and Benson County were mentioned, said Boss.

Now the discussion has broadened, said Boss, to include the International Longshoremen’s Association, trucking and rail shipping companies, steamship lines and ag producers.

We’ve already received inquiries from wheat shippers in eastern Washington,” said Boss. “They’re talking 100 containers per week going to Seattle ports with no wasted time sitting in traffic, messing up shipping schedules.”

Now it’s up to the Port of Quincy to “keep the dialogue going and come up with some serious options” for shippers, said Boss. “We need commitments from all parties involved, then rates and schedules need to be figured out. There’s still a lot of work to do.”

He added, “But the impetus is there. Interest is growing. Things are starting to happen.”


Pear crop estimated at slightly smaller than 2016 harvest

NCW — Pear lovers will be happy to note that crop estimates released last month show quality high, quantity down slightly and promotions on target to tout pears as healthy and versatile.

Portland-based Pear Bureau Northwest estimated that this year’s fresh pear crop in Washington and Oregon will hit 17.6 million boxes (390,000 tons), a tally 2 percent less that the 2016 harvest and 10 percent less than the five-year average.

Growers are reporting an excellent quality of pear crop on the trees” with slightly lower harvest numbers overall, said Kevin Moffitt, president and CEO of Pear Bureau Northwest (PBNW), the marketing group for U.S. pears.

The region’s first official pear crop estimates were compiled June 1 during PBNW’s annual meeting in Portland and included growers from the Wenatchee and Yakima districts in Washington and the Mid-Columbia and Medford districts in Oregon.

This year’s harvest should take place close to historical average pick dates, which is later than the last two seasons, said a PBNW press release. Starkrimson variety is expected in early August with Bartletts coming later that month. Anjou, Bosc and Comice will be picked in September and October.

Exports account for 39 to 45 percent of the crop, said the press release. Promotions will focus on the health benefits of eating pears, including their high fiber content.


Holtzinger becomes The Fourth Leaf Fruit Company

YAKIMA — After 109 years in business, the Holtzinger Fruit Company has renamed itself to better reflect its “new vision” in packing, shipping and marketing.

Now called The Fourth Leaf Fruit Company, the business has “changes in management and ownership” and is now structured “to yield significant benefits to the independent grower, local community and customer,” said a company press release.

The fourth leaf is the phase when a new apple tree begins to yield significant fruit, said the release.

This is more than just a name change,” said company president David Henze. “This is part of a bold new vision and support for our grower-first mission.”

Fourth Leaf will continue to market fruit under its Royal Purple, Regal Red and Adolfo’s Organic labels. Its management team will also also work to support the company’s “three main pillars,” said Henze. Those include commitment to the independent grower, continued use of regenerative ag practices and delivery of quality products to customers.

The Fourth Leaf Fruit Company is owned by a Seattle investment group and led by a management team in Yakima. Fourth Leaf sells to customers across the U.S. and in over 35 countries, said a press release.