The importance of nautical access (the only deep-water port on the Atlantic seaboard) and the fertile lands of Centre-Ouest region, combined with a climate conducive to quality, have contributed to the development of all types of crops in the second part of 20th century, placing the Atlantic Port La Rochelle today as the first port for cereal exports on the Atlantic coast and the second French port for exports.
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This situation helped build in the 60s a collection silo (Silo Bertrand), then a loading silo and a dedicated dock (Lombard) for cereal exports of cooperatives (SICA Atlantique Group), with systems for direct loading on ships, thus avoiding loading interruption. In the 70s, a port silo Socomac (Soufflet Group) was built on the area of Chef de Baie, now benefitting from the excellent nautical qualities of the terminals of the Wet dock and Chef de Baie, with its mobile loading systems that can be adapted to any type of vessel.
With a series of changes in agricultural policies, farmers have benefited from the excellent qualities of storage in the port, allowing them to move all types of crops to the port silos: Cereals / Corn / Malting or Forage barley / Sunflower / Rapeseed / Lucerne from silos not yet connected, by truck transport, and by rail from the connected silos. Given the development in recent years of significant storage resources upstream connected via the rail network, the massing of volumes has allowed strengthening the inflow capacity of the port site. The Port has seized this opportunity to make its contribution, both environmental and economic, creating the first Port Railway Operator:OFP Atlantique.
From the early 2000s, the variability in port tonnage in the sector "cereals" can be explained notably by:
Agricultural policies with greater emphasis on capturing the domestic markets and therefore not benefiting from marine exports
Climatic factors, both in quality and quantity, not promoting local crops and mainly their precocity, which is one of the strengths of the region in the hinterland of the Port
Or for monetary reasons, the Euro / Dollar parity, thus placing the global competitors of France in a more favourable position toward countries of the European Community and also third countries.