The Oregon Transportation Commission recently approved a $2.1 million grant for the Morrow County Grain Growers Inc. (MCGG) cooperative to expand its rail-to-barge grain facility at the Port of Morrow on the Columbia River, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said.

According to today's weekly USDA Grain Transportation Report, the grant will cover two-thirds of the project’s $3 million cost, and the MCGG board, which is responsible for the final costs not covered by the grant, must give it final approval.

The Port of Morrow facility is currently the only one on the Columbia River that can transfer grain from rail cars to barges headed to downstream export elevators. The expansion calls for the installation of a new 600,000-bushel grain bin, which will enable the facility to handle Canadian Pacific trains of 134 or more railcars, the USDA said.

According to Army Corps of Engineers data, from 2016 to 2020, grain shipments originating or moving through the Columbia River system ranged between 27.5 million tons and 33.8 million tons — or 66%-74% of all shipments on the river. From 2016 to 2020, wheat was the primary grain commodity shipped on the Columbia, with shipments ranging between 12.7 million tons and 16.4 million tons.