The United Soybean Board (USB) recently announced a $2 million allocation to help offset the planning, design, and research costs of deepening the lower Mississippi River from 45 ft. to 50 ft. The 73 USB farmer-directors are responsible for investing soybean checkoff funds to enhance the value and preference for U.S. soy.
Recent research conducted by the Soy Transportation Coalition concludes that shipping costs for soybeans from Mississippi Gulf export terminals would decline 13 cents per bushel ($5 per metric ton) if the lower Mississippi River is dredged to 50 ft. A deeper river will allow both larger ships to be utilized and current ships being utilized to be loaded with more revenue-producing freight.
“During this challenging period, soybean farmers are being aggressive in trying to increase our competitiveness,” says Mike Bellar, a soybean farmer from Howard, Kansas, and chairman of the Soy Transportation Coalition (STC). “The $2 million in funding from our national checkoff organization, the United Soybean Board, will help improve our number one export region of U.S. soybeans. It will remain critical for the Soy Transportation Coalition, the American Soybean Association, and the individual state soybean associations to continue to promote this project at the federal and state level.
The overall project is estimated to cost $245 million and would occur in three phases. Two of the phases will be cost-shared between the federal government (75%) and non-federal sources (25%). The State of Louisiana has been designated as the obligated non-federal entity. USB is allocating the $2 million to help offset planning, design, and research costs, combined with approximately $21 million in federal funding and $7.5 million in funding from the State of Louisiana to initiate the first year’s work of the project (i.e. commencing the deepening of the river from Venice, Louisiana, to the Gulf of Mexico).