With the aim of making their Stephenville facility more competitive and efficient, the Newfoundland Feed Grain Society is receiving an injection of $400,000 from the federal government.
The announcement was made last Monday by Senator Ethel Cochrane, who said the money was made available through the government's Community Adjustment Fund.
"At a time of global recession, it's important that government accelerate its investments in communities like ours and to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador," said the senator.
She noted the project would generate local economic activity via direct and indirect employment during the upgrades, while enhancing quality control of the grain during unloading and storage at the local facility.
The society is a not-for-profit organization, whose members are engaged in the dairy and poultry industries that work together to procure, transport, store, process and distribute grain and other livestock feeds.
"The whole reason for our existence really is to provide an infrastructure so that we can avail of the transportation of grain into western Newfoundland via water, versus via rubber," he Bruce Simmons, society chair.
He said while bringing in each 7,000-tonne shipment of grain via boats to Stephenville is more economical than trucking it across the Gulf, the upgrades announced would further help save on costs.
"First of all, we'll purchase and install a system of unloading the grain from boats so that we can unload quicker and more efficiently and we'll use a conveyor or blower system ... to actually suck the grain right out of the hull of the boat, and blow it across or convey it across the 300 or 400 feet to the feed mill and put it right into our elevator system."
From there, said Mr. Simmons, the grain goes into storage. To help increase site capacity, he said the federal funding would help the society build a new 1,800 tonne storage tank.
"With the erection of the new tank, which should be completed probably by May, we will be able to fully avail of the capacity of the boat and therefore create an additional efficiency with the cost of grain," he said.
"What it means for the agricultural community - and hopefully that trickles right down to the consumer - is that the savings on the grain that goes through that mill every year will probably be in the range of $150,000 to $250,000."
Stephenville Mayor Tom O'Brien said he was pleased with the announcement.
"As the mayor, I have to say that we certainly see the benefits of projects like this one ... not only [for] our own community, but certainly to the region as a whole."