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Perdue Agribusiness Deepwater Port

Have you ever wondered how Virginia’s agriculture and forestry products make it around the world? How about how Virginia’s imports make it into the state. My wife just answered NO! But I am going to tell you anyway.

The Port of Virginia plays a pivotal role in moving our agriculture and forestry products to far-flung places such as India and China. It is also the main point of entry for many of our imports from different parts of the world.

On Saturday, November 10, 2018, VALOR Cohort IV met with Ray Keating, International Merchandiser at Perdue Agribusiness who provided us with an overview of Perdue’s operation at the Port of Virginia. Ray who graduated from Iowa State with a degree in Ag Business (1978-1982), spent 20 years at ConAgra Foods as Facility Manager, River Terminals, Grain Elevators before joining to Perdue.

His presentation on the various activities that take place at the Perdue terminal shed light on the complex logistics that are involved in moving grains over land and sea. He explained the difference between demurrage and dispatch in the shipping business. Usually, a shipowner and charterer agree contractually to a certain number of days in port for loading/off-loading. If there are delays in loading or off-loading, the charterer has to pay the shipowner for the delay, hence demurrage charges. On the other hand, if the loading or off-loading take less time than the laytime allowed, the charterer may require the shipowner to pay dispatch for the time saved. Demurrage costs can easily add up for every day delayed. Interestingly, demurrage costs incurred by the charterer are usually higher than dispatch costs faced by the shipowner.

The logistics involved in moving train cars to and from the grain elevators for off-loading is very demanding. No wonder there is a dedicated locomotive on site to move cars in and out seamlessly in order to prevent bottlenecks. Additionally, any delay in grains shipment from the mid-west can be temporarily mitigated by the sheer volume of the storage containers on site.

Our visit ended with a brief walk around the terminal. Seeing a ship in port brought back memories of the summer I spent working on a ship. Actually, it was more like hanging out on the side of the ship on a makeshift scaffold chipping rust and applying a primer on the sides of the ship. I can honestly say it was not a pleasant job, but it did help me buy new shoes and uniforms for school.

See pictures of the terminal below.

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