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Silos: A New Weapon for Farmers

Storage is helping farmers hold out for better prices

Drive along Route 63 in Iowa or I-74 in Illinois and you’ll see them by the score: shiny grain silos, built of galvanized steel, dotting the fields of these top two corn-growing states.

The nation’s farmers have built up oilseed and grain storage capacity to its highest level in two decades. On-farm storage in silos (also known as bins) climbed to 12.5 billion bushels in December 2010, the most since 1989, according to the latest estimates from the U.S. Agriculture Dept. Bin makers GSI Holdings and Brock Grain Systems (controlled by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway) say farmers are adding still more storage. Both companies expect a strong 2012 as a result.