MILWAUKEE — A partnership between Port Milwaukee and the DeLong Co. is changing the game for Wisconsin agricultural exports.

The DeLong Co. tested out the vessel loader that will be used for an export later this month at their Agricultural Maritime Export Facility.

Brandon Bickham is the company’s export sales director and said they are the only facility in the state that has the ability to transport distiller’s grain and soybean meal.

“Which is going through a big growth cycle in the west, so we are excited about bringing those new products to the lakes that really traditionally have not been exported through the St. Lawrence Seaway,” said Bickham.

He believes it will make it much easier for Wisconsin farmers wanting to transport these products to international markets. Those markets include northern Europe, the Mediterranean, North Africa and the Middle East.

“The products, especially in Wisconsin, can come on a short truck ride, maybe one hour, maybe one and a half hours on a place to get on an ocean-going vessel where today those products have to go, either by truck to the Illinois River or by rail to St. Louis and then load a barge, go down to the gulf and then get reloaded again on an ocean-going vessel,” said Bickham.

On Friday, Congresswoman Gwen Moore toured the facility.

For her, it was about seeing how the partnership between the DeLong Co. and Port Milwaukee takes advantage of the available natural resources.

(Spectrum News 1/Phillip Boudreaux)

“This really is another way to lift up Milwaukee as being the only port, I guess, in this region, that has the capacity to navigate its way through the St. Lawrence,” said Congresswoman Moore. “This is a job creating program as well, so it does a number of things. It helps small farmers. It helps with employment opportunities.”

Port Milwaukee Director Jackie Q Carter believes this facility will impact more than just the southeastern region of Wisconsin.

“We know there is a need to increase exports so DeLong facilities is an example of how we get that done, but we want to also make sure that other businesses who have products that they need to get to international markets, they can use the Port of Milwaukee to do that and if they are getting products from international markets, the Port of Milwaukee is also there to support that as well,” said Carter.

The DeLong Co. isn’t stopping here.

“We are working on phase two which would allow us to handle more grains at one time with different qualities and types so we can build what we call grocery ships where the vessel has two to three types of grains and feed stuff on it,” said Bickham.

Bickham, Carter and Moore hope this is just the beginning of making it easier for the world to enjoy what’s made here in Wisconsin.