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Deepening of Mississippi River will benefit farmers

Barge traffic moves on the Mississippi River at the Melvin Price Locks and Dam Facility near Alton, Illinois.
Barge traffic moves on the Mississippi River at the Melvin Price Locks and Dam Facility near Alton, Illinois.

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana farmers will feel the benefits of a new project in Louisiana, which will deepen the lower Mississippi River from 45 feet to 50 feet.

A deeper river will allow larger ships to be utilized and current ships being utilized to be loaded with more revenue-producing freight — like corn and soybeans.

Checkoff-funded research by Soy Transportation Coalition showed this dredging work would save 13 cents per bushel of freight.

It will increase the load by 500,000 bushels per ocean vessel and bring an additional $461 million in revenue to U.S. soybean farmers, according to the study.

“I think this is the single infrastructure project that will provide the most benefit to the most soybean farmers in the U.S.,” said Mike Steenhoek, executive director of the STC, during a webinar hosted by Indiana Soybean Alliance and Indiana Corn Growers Association.

“The work on the first phase of the project will start this fall with the completion of this phase in the fall of 2021. What that will do is provide a 50-foot channel from the Gulf of Mexico to mile 154 on the lower Mississippi River.”

Sixty percent of U.S. soybeans leave via the lower Mississippi River.

“You have a lot of farmers, including in Indiana, that have a short truck journey to access this efficient maritime highway,” Steenhoek said.

“It allows these farmers far removed from the coastal regions of the U.S. to be international entrepreneurs, because of the access to efficient transportation.”

Learn more about soybean transportation at www.soytransportation.org.

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