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Elevators Win, Farmers Lose on Dock

November 6, 2009
By: Sara Schafer, Farm Journal Media Business and Crops Editor

Linda H. Smith, Top Producer Executive Editor
Millions of dollars will disappear out of farmers' pockets into elevators this fall.

The vehicle, moisture dockage, is perfectly legal. Perhaps not perfectly fair in the way it's calculated. Elevators typically round up tested moisture level to the nearest half. So if you bring in a truckload of beans that tests 13.1% (0.1 over the zero-discount level), you are docked as if you brought in 13.5%. If the discount is 10¢ per half-percentage-point, the actual 0.1 would be worth 2¢ but you'd be charged 10¢, leaving 8¢ behind. On a 900-bu. truck, that's $72. Corn is similar, with a 9¢ dockage for each 1% or 4.5¢ for a half-percent. Furthermore, if you bring in a 12% load chances are you won't get a bonus.

"So the effect is multiplied as the elevator blends,” says Rock Katschnig, who farms near Prophetstown, Ill. "If I bring in one load at 12%, one at 13% and one at 13.1%, I m docked $90. Yet my average is only 12.7%. Is that fair?”
Katschnig has talked with multiple elevators, commodity groups and farm organizations about the way the discounts are calculated. All agree he's right. All responded: "Good luck changing it.” How much are you giving up this fall?

You can e-mail Linda Smith at

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