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Six feet makes big difference in U.S. ag exports

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• If the Savannah Harbor gets another six feet deeper, it can continue being a top U.S. port for ag exports. If it doesn't, it won't be.

They say baseball is a game of inches. Any sport really is. And if you are like me and believe sports can mirror life, then life is a game of inches.

If I had one more inch, I’d be six feet tall. If the Savannah Harbor, obviously located in Savannah, Ga., gets another six feet of drift, or just six feet deeper, it can continue to be one of the main places U.S. ag exports leave to go see the world. If it doesn’t grow deeper, it won’t be.

The Savannah Harbor is one of the largest, most active harbors in the U.S. There’s a bunch of numbers to prove that, but it pretty much ranks fourth in pure tonnage handled. It is one of the very top, though, when it comes to U.S. ag exports, which means foreign money coming into our country instead of it fleeing our country to the world, which is way too much the norm these days. Something I know and believe is not sustainable.

Here’s something I didn’t know: The Savannah Harbors is also the shallowest harbor in North America, with only about 42 feet of drift for cargo ships to pass through. Who cares? Well …

At the International Agribusiness Conference in Savannah in September, the dredging of the Savannah River, making its harbor deeper and more accommodating to larger cargo was top priority No. 1. Every speaker pretty much referenced it and it was on the tongue of most chatter between sessions. Much larger super-sized cargo ships, they say, will soon be passing through the Panama Canal, the famous passage for much the world, at least in our part of the world and one that connects global commerce.

The Panama Canal itself is getting a girthy makeover as we speak, to make way for these super-sized ships to pass.

Georgia’s Gov. Nathan Deal in September went to Panama, he told the conference in Savannah, to check on the progress of the Panama Canal’s expansion.

The widening is slated to be complete by 2015. He said folks doing the work said the project there was a bit behind schedule, at least behind what they personally wanted to accomplish, which is another way to say they want to get it done and finished now.

They’re coming, and if the super ships can’t park to load or unload in Savannah, well, they’ll go someplace else. Accommodating good customers, no matter how big they sail, is just good business.

The timing’s right for this kind of investment in the South, if not behind time. U.S. ag exports remain the shining part of our economy about any way you shake the numbers. The world is hungry and the taste and the quality of American-grown and cared-for food is the “Gold Standard” in the world.

And if your neighbor thinks otherwise on that, ‘wisen’ them up about it.

I know enough about business and money to know it doesn’t come free, at least it doesn’t for most of us.

To make money, you have to spend money. And to make real money, you have to be willing to peel off the big bucks.

Heck, U.S. farmers know that fact better than about any group of capitalists in the world. They dole out the big-time funds annually to make the high-quality food the world now finds itself with the means to pay for and want. And that is money well spent to keep that reputation alive.

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