LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board (ASPB) is applauding a recent decision by the Army Corps of Engineers to move forward on a project to dredge a portion of the Mississippi River to create a more economically productive infrastructure for transporting U.S. soy products.
The United Soybean Board (USB) reports that completing this project will bring an additional $461 million in revenue to U.S. soybean farmers.
“The Mississippi River is one of the most important channels of transportation for American agriculture,” said Derek Haigwood, a USB farmer-leader and U.S. Soybean Export Council board director from Newport. “Deepening it will help U.S. soybean producers be more competitive in the global marketplace by providing a cost-efficient way to transport larger shipments of soybeans that better accommodate large global ports.”
Arkansas ranks 11th in the nation for soybean production, 50 percent of which is exported. About 60 percent of all U.S. soy exports are transported along this 256 miles of river located between Baton Rouge, La., and the Gulf of Mexico.
The Army Corps of Engineers and the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development will provide the funds necessary to deepen the river bottom by five feet, taking its current depth of 45 feet to 50 feet. This will allow ocean vessels to increase their carrying capacity by 500,000 bushels while generating a savings in freight costs of 13 cents per bushel.
The decision to proceed with the dredging project was informed by checkoff-funded research highlighting the long-term benefits soybeans and other U.S. agricultural exports will realize once the project is completed. The soybean checkoff is a congressionally mandated assessment on soybeans, whose proceeds are used to fund soybean research and promotion efforts.
In addition to USB, the project has also received support from the Soy Transportation Coalition, American Soybean Association and U.S. Soybean Export Council.