Angus Cereals and Openfield unveil plan for grain store at Montrose

A JOINT venture between a local farming group and the UK's largest handler of grain will see a 45,000-tonne storage facility built at Montrose docks.

Angus Cereals linked up with grain giant Openfield for the scheme, which will be backed by a 2.26 million grant from the Scottish Government.

It will provide modern dockside facilities within easy reach of one of Scotland's main growing areas.

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Commenting on the proposal, Angus Cereals member and one of the 25 farm businesses already signed up to supply the facility, David Fairlie said Tayside farmers produce more than half a million tonnes of cereals a year, including 300,000 tonnes of malting barley.

Fairlie said: "The portside development ,which we expect to be operational for next harvest, will help us properly store, condition and segregate grain in a purpose-built facility rather than our current use of ageing stores many of which are owned by third parties."

He added he saw the development as helping to secure the long-term future of grain growing in the area as it would provide improved efficiency benefits to all parties.

Openfield is the UK's largest farmer owned grain business. It was formed in 2008 following a merger between Grainfarmers and Centaur, but its roots go back to the beginning of the last century with the establishment of the Southern Counties farm co-operative.

It had a turnover of about 557 million in its first 11 months of operation and these figures provided a 7.2m profit in a sector fabled for its narrow margins. Openfield's farmer members also received a bonus of 1m from these returns.

Back in 2003, the then company of Grainfarmers formed a business relationship with Aberdeen Grain and it is intended the Montrose operation will be modelled on that type of working where Openfield will be responsible for the marketing of the produce.

Openfield's Scottish manager, and Aberdeen Grain's general manager, Bruce Ferguson, said the scale of the operation would help in the delivery of a uniformly consistent quality of grain. He said: "In the past, the infrastructure in Scotland has meant most growers have been forced to sell their high-quality product at harvest.

"This has led to them being placed in a weak selling position."

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Between Aberdeen Grain and Angus Cereals, more than 100,000 tonnes of grain will be handled annually. The port facility will include flat store capacity, high capacity intakes, a 150 tonne per hour dryer as well as offices and laboratory facilities.