As Congress considers several transportation issues and measures, including appropriations bills and the potential Surface Transportation Reauthorization bill by the authorizing committees, the American Soybean Association (ASA) is urging support for its top transportation and infrastructure priorities.

“Soybean farmers have a strong interest in ensuring there is a safe and efficient transportation system,” said ASA President Alan Kemper, a soybean farmer from Lafayette, Ind.

“The ability to move soybeans from the farm to processing facilities and our export customers is a significant factor in our bottom line. To maintain our industries’ competitive position in the global market, we must invest in our aging and increasingly inefficient transportation infrastructure.”

Soybeans move by truck, by barge, and by rail, and with approximately 50 percent of the crop exported, soybean farmers are especially impacted by the state of U.S. transportation infrastructure.

The soybean industry is one of few U.S. sectors that provide a positive trade balance and is responsible for a significant number of jobs and economic development, especially in rural America.

“First and foremost, funding must be provided to allow the Lower Mississippi River to remain fully open for commerce,” Kemper said. “The inland waterways navigation system, especially the Mississippi River, is a vital asset in the movement of important commodities such as grain, coal, steel, petroleum and aggregate materials.”

In 2010, approximately 850 million bushels of soybeans were exported from the Mississippi Gulf region. This year, unprecedented levels of high water on the Mississippi River are carrying silt and debris to the mouth of the River.