U.S. farmers depend on a 50-year-old highway system, a 70-year-old inland waterway system and a railway network build in the late 1800s to move their products from the fields to end users.

This aging transportation system has been providing U.S. soybean farmers a competitive advantage in the global market, but a recent study funded by the United Soybean Board’s (USB’s) and soy checkoff’s Global Opportunities (GO) program supports the growing evidence that this advantage continues to be threatened by the deterioration of U.S. highways, bridges, rails, locks and dams.

The study, “Farm to Market – A Soybean’s Journey,”analyzed how soybeans and other agricultural products move from the farm gate to customers, highlighting weaknesses found in the system along the way. The study was recommended by the checkoff-funded Soy Transportation Coalition.

“The entire transportation network has been vital to the U.S. soy industry, not only in moving our product to domestic processors but also in delivering U.S. soy to our international customers as well,” says Dale Profit, soybean farmer from Van Wert, Ohio, and USB director.

“We need to protect this advantage if the United States is going to remain the preferred source for soy throughout the world.”

The U.S. inland waterway system remains a precarious leg of a soybean’s journey. The deteriorating lock system remains at risk of failure, and dredging needs to be done to encompass new larger ships that will be possible with the expansion of the Panama Canal, due to open in late 2014.