Innovations

Wenger Feed Mill

Wenger Feed Mill at Shippensburg, 2018.  Courtesy of Wenger Feed Mill, Shippensburg, PA.

As markets continued to shift and new challenges arose, grain farmers in the Cumberland Valley adopted many innovative techniques.  One early method that they employed to remain competitive was through strategic warehousing. Grain would be stored in the elevators along the railroads, waiting for sale at the most advantageous price. Farmers would rent storage space in the elevators or sell their crops to the dealers who owned the elevators.

Farmers also adapted to meet changes in demand by transitioning from growing grain for human consumption to the cultivation of animal feed. By the early 1900s, corn production increased significantly. Silos appeared on the agricultural landscape. The purpose of the silo was to store corn, grass, and other plant material and allow it to ferment into a highly nutritious feed.

After World War II, the pace accelerated. More and more feed grain was needed as regional dairy herds grew larger, both in numbers and physicality.

Co-op should have best year yet

Co-Op President Floyd Maines pleased with Conrail.  Public Opinion, October 29, 1976

Another method employed by local farmers to be more competetive was co-oping. Rather than work independently and compete against one another for market shares, area farmers began to process, store, and market their crops cooperatively. Working together as a Grain and Supply Co-op allowed them to achieve economies of scale, thereby increasing their bargaining power to receive the best prices in production, transportation, and sales.

One successful co-op venture in Shippensburg was the Cumberland Valley Cooperative Association (CVC). It was built on 15.2 acres of land and features a feed manufacturing faciltiy as well as grain storage bins and a corn drying system. The complex includes a thirty ton per hour auto feed mill and a warehouse that can store over 100 thousand bushels of grain. It offered feeds, fertilizers, grains, seeds, agricultural chemicals along with custom application.

In 2015, Kalmbach Feeds, Inc. acquired a majority of the assets of CVC. Products produced by Kalmbach are shipped via the Norfolk Southern Railway along the old CVRR trail.

Shippensburg Co-op

Cumberland Valley Cooperative Grain Elevator Shippensburg, 2015.  Courtesy of Randy Watts, Shippensburg, PA.

Also prominent today in the Cumberland Valley is Agway Inc. Agway is a consumer wholesale dealer with regional headquarters, procurement, and formulations departments in Shippensburg. In 2000, it was purchased by Southern States Cooperative. Under the terms of their agreement, Southern States has been supplying farm and other products to be sold in the Agway stores. Southern States is one of the largest farm supply retail and service cooperatives in the United States. The Richmond, VA-based group was founded in 1923 as Virginia Seed Service (VSS).

Kalmbach Feed Mill

Kalmbach Feed Mill in Shippensburg 2018.  Courtesy of Kalmbach Feeds, Shippensburg, PA.