Harnessing Rivers to Move U.S. Soy

USSEC Staff Writer

USSEC Staff Writer

U.S. Soybean Export Council

Winding through the croplands of the Midwestern United States, several mighty rivers not only shape the landscape but also the movement of U.S. Soy. The Mississippi, Missouri, Illinois and Ohio rivers are vital routes for getting U.S. agricultural products to end users. To move soybeans, soybean meal and soybean oil from the vast soybean-growing region of the United States to the ports for export, the U.S. soy industry relies on a robust system of highways, railways and waterways. With one of the premier transportation systems in the world, U.S. soybean farmers are able to move their products quickly and efficiently and pass the cost savings along to their customers.

“The infrastructure system in the United States has been the main competitive advantage we have in exporting our U.S. soybeans and soy products,” says Dwain Ford, U.S. soybean farmer from Illinois. “U.S. soybeans have always been accepted by the international marketplace as a premier soybean in terms of quality, safety and sustainability. And our infrastructure is part of this.”

Dwain and his wife, Melba, grow soybeans and corn and also own M&D Seed Company in Kinmundy, Illinois, just a little over 100 miles from the Mississippi River. Dwain is familiar with the importance of the waterways to moving his soybeans to ports where they can be loaded for export. The rivers aren’t just important to the Fords for moving their soybeans and corn to export position, they’re also used to move products such as fertilizer and fuel to the Midwest.

Through engineering marvels, the United States has been able to harness the power of the rivers. The U.S. agriculture industry uses extensive system of locks that allow barges to navigate the inland waterways and move products both downriver and upriver.



Moving soybeans by barges on the river isn’t just faster, it is also more efficient and saves fuel. Plus more soybeans can be loaded onto barge than a railcar or a truck. In fact, one barge can carry up to 1,500 tons of cargo – that’s the equivalent of 52,500 bushels of soybeans. Usually there are many barges in one tow.

By using the rivers to their advantage, U.S. soybean farmers and the U.S. soy industry can get U.S. soybeans, soybean meal and soybean oil to customers reliably and sustainably.

“The lock and dam system is an important part of the U.S. soy industry,” adds Ford. “As U.S. soybean farmers, we recognize that.”