This category includes establishments primarily engaged in the warehousing and storage of farm products. Farm product warehouses provide temporary storage for non-perishable agricultural products, such as grain. Establishments primarily engaged in refrigerated warehousing are classified in SIC 4222: Refrigerated Warehousing and Storage.
Farm Product Storage Facilities
More than 1,000 farm product warehouses held federal licenses in 2005. Those establishments complied with the Grain Standards and Warehouse Improvement Act of 2000 (Public Law 106-472), which amended and modernized the United States Warehouse Act (USWA) originally passed by Congress and signed into law in 1916. There were approximately 761 grain warehouses, 207 cotton warehouses, and 49 warehouses storing other agricultural products in 2005.
Total on-farm storage capacity in the United States in early 2006 was reported at 11.4 billion bushels, and off-farm storage totaled 8.53 billion bushels. The industry was served by the National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA), which worked to represent grain warehouse interests at the state and federal levels, and to conduct research to reduce industry costs and increase efficiency and reliability.
Warehousing has long served as a significant link between producers and consumers. Before elevator mechanization, grain was stored and shipped in sacks or barrels. A chain-bucket system to move grain from bins into elevators was invented in 1785 and improved in 1843, achieving widespread use by the 1860s. Before modern roads and rail transportation, country storekeepers doubled as warehousers who traded commodities and offered credit. Transportation and storage improvements made it profitable to grow grains further from major markets, spurring the development of commodity exchanges.
The warehousing industry refined its basic function from simple storage and handling of bulk materials toward supplying the market with custom products. The baking industry, for example, launches hundreds of new products annually to satisfy demand for variety, quality, safety, convenience, price, and environmental compatibility. As warehousing evolved from high-volume processing to a transitional role in value-added product innovation, new management techniques and specialized skills...