Dredging Mississippi Could Save Farmers Millions

DES MOINES, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- With trade disputes threatening soybean prices, farmers are looking at saving money by making transportation more efficient.

The Lower Mississippi River bears 60 percent of U.S. soybean exports. Mike Steenhoek with the Soy Transportation Coalition says its important to keep that stretch of river fit for efficiency.

Right now, the river is dredged at 45 feet deep. In a study, the Soy Transportation Coalition found lowering it another five feet would make the whole supply chain work better. Ships could carry heavier loads and larger ocean vessels could make it down the river. And dredging that part of the Mississippi River could shave 13 cents per soybean bushel off the delivered price to the customer.

Steenhoek says, "As we're contemplating what are some of the things that we as a nation can do to improve or moderate the negative consequences of all this turmoil on the international marketplace, improving infrastructure, particularly investing in this particular project, dredging the lower Mississippi River is one of those initiatives that would really provide some benefit to U.S. soybean farmers."

Those benefits would be about $461 million annually that returns to farmers for soybeans alone. For the Iowa soybean producer, that slices out to $71 million annually.

The Army Corps of Engineers would be in charge of any dredging process, which would need federal and non-federal funding components. In its preliminary analysis, the Army Corps estimates the project would cost around $200 million.

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