LACASSINE, La. (AP) — Nearly 2,000 barrels of raw rice from farmer Glenden Marceaux is waiting in storage at a new $4 million high-speed rail facility nearing completion in rural Jefferson Davis Parish.

Marceaux's rice will be used to test the facility's operation.

"They needed rice for the facility to check the grain elevators and to calibrate the scales," said Marceaux, who is the vice chairman of the South Louisiana Rail Facility. "We're anxious to make sure everything works fine."

Marceaux told the American Press ( ) on Monday the owners hope to have the facility open by the end of the month, although construction continues on a grading room.

"It'll take a little while for the grading room to be ready, but the rice coming in can still be manually graded," Marceaux said.

He said that without a vision in mind the facility would not be a reality today.

"It has been monumental at best, but it's a project that we could have never dreamed of or gotten this far with without the help of so many people from the growers to the governor's office," Marceaux said.

The state Bond Commission approved $2.3 million for the facility last month. Other funding sources including the U.S. Department of Agriculture, state, area farmers and private sources have provided financial support.

Jefferson Davis Parish Police Juror and rice farmer Mark Pousson said the facility will provide marketing options for growers, including those with excess rice.

"We were looking at what we could do to improve our marketing options," Pousson said. "We had been growing rice for hundreds of years, but we needed another option. This rail facility was it."

The facility will allow farmers to export nearly 800 metric tons of rice, corn, soybeans, wheat and other grains on a year-around basis to Mexico, South America and other global markets via rail, reducing transportation costs.


Information from: American Press,