Several studies are being initiated that will analyze the economic impact that transportation has on the economy and on the cost competitiveness of U.S. soybeans.

The Soy Transportation Coalition (STC) and the United Soybean Board (USB) are conducting a "Farm to Market" analysis to study transportation of U.S. soybeans, soybean products, and other agricultural commodities from U.S. farms to their destination markets.

The project seeks to provide a greater understanding of the impact transportation has on profitability and competitiveness, develop a more precise understanding of how U.S. soybeans and other leading agricultural products are transported to customers, and the obstacles and challenges to efficiency and profitability that U.S. transportation may present.

The analysis will look specifically at current and future U.S. production, where this production occurs, where it will be consumed, the extent to which the U.S. transportation system is equipped to accommodate supply and demand for agricultural products, the infrastructure enhancements being made by international competitors, and the impact on U.S. agriculture if transportation improvements in the U.S. are not made.

This study is scheduled to be completed by Dec. 30, 2011.

Lock, dam study under way

The STC and USB already have under way a study on locks and dams that is examining the impact of a catastrophic lock failure or malfunction on the local agricultural economy.

The project will highlight: 1.) The current and future role of our nation’s lock and dam inventory in facilitating the movement of agricultural freight; 2.) The current condition of our nation’s lock inventory — particularly which locks are most likely to experience a failure similar to the two lock failures along the Ohio River in 2009; and 3.) The economic impact on agriculture if such a failure occurs.

The project aims to increase the intensity of support for lock and dam modernization and repair by highlighting the tangible consequences potentially experienced on a local level by such occurrences.

It is necessary to move beyond the macro statistics and arguments that have dominated such discussions in the past. Creating greater awareness of potential scenarios that will impact local constituents is important.

In addition, the Big River Coalition, which advocates on issues related to commerce on the Mississippi River system, is conducting an economic impact study that will analyze the financial impacts of draft or transit restrictions directly linked to inadequate dredging on the Lower Mississippi River.

The study will include analysis of the impact of the Mississippi River draft restrictions on the U.S. economy from 2011 to 2020, and contain a benefit/cost analysis comparing the economic loss attributable to the restrictions with the dollar savings that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will realize from reduced dredging operations.

The scope of the study also includes the increased impact associated with the deepening of the Panama Canal.

This study is expected to be completed by the middle of October.

Each of these studies is expected to provide valuable insight and equip the American Soybean Association with information that assists with its efforts to address federal transportation policy priorities.