Merchandiser buys grain to make feed locallyPublished 10:16am Wednesday, June 19, 2013
WAVERLY—Well-fed hogs are healthy hogs, and quality grain is one way the swine become suitable to take to market, such as Smithfield Foods. Finding the food, however, is the work of David Hull from Williamsburg.
“I buy all of the grain we use to produce feed at the Waverly mill of Murphy-Brown LLC for their hogs,” said the merchandiser. “We’re the largest hog producer in the world. Waverly alone uses about eight million bushels of grain annually, and on the East Coast it’s about 80 million bushels annually.”
Most of the grain is bought locally, Hull said, adding that his focus is in southeastern Virginia, which includes Surry, Sussex and Southampton counties, northern North Carolina and Maryland.
“At Waverly we’re probably one of the largest grain buyers in Virginia,” said Hull. “There’s maybe only one or two in competition.”
The Midwest had been Murphy-Brown’s focus for many years, but rail freight costs continue to rise, he said, so the company is concentrating on local markets.
“Our local growers are very critical to our success,” Hull said. “We’re really focused on creating a high level of customer service to make Murphy-Brown the best place to sell and deliver grain.”
The company wants to be the direct contact for farmers or dealers or anyone selling grain here in the marketplace, he added, so Murphy-Brown hires people such as Hull who lives and works in the area and is here for the clients.
“I cover up into Maryland, Farmville and Amelia, Va., and down into Elizabeth City, N.C.,” Hull said. “So much is done on the phone, but I like to meet people. People do business with people.”
Farmers usually bring the grain to Murphy-Brown grain sites, such as the one in Waverly, he said, adding the company is working to build a small fleet that could do pickups.
“We’re trying to help farmers look for ways to increase production on their farms,” said Hull. “We’ve created a market for grain sorghum, which hasn’t been around for 30 years. But just in the past two years, we’ve seen an increase in it.”
Originally from the Sudan region of Africa, sorghum does quite well in this local climate, he said, going on to describe the grain as “very small, maybe half the size of a kernel of wheat.”
Further, it has 95 percent of the nutrient value of corn and, Hull added, hogs like to eat it.