Scoop on Soybean Travel Spotlight: Panama

South Dakota Soybean’s Stan Hanson, South Dakota farmer, and Jeremy Freking, executive director, spent a week in Panama for the Soy Transportation Coalition annual meeting.

The Soy Transportation Coalition is made up of nine states, including South Dakota. In addition to serving on the South Dakota Soybean Research and Promotion Council board, Stan also represents South Dakota on the Soy Transportation Coalition. The goal of the Coalition is to position the soybean industry, and its stakeholders, to benefit from transportation systems that deliver cost effective, reliable and competitive service. The organization also stresses the vital role that transportation systems play for the soybean industry. With over half of the soybeans grown in the United States exported to other countries, transportation is a key factor for the industry’s success. In particular, the Panama Canal is a major player for soybean exports and transportation.

View of the Panama Canal

Panama Canal Transportation Tidbits

  • The Panama Canal saves between 4,800 to 6,000 nautical miles or 15 to 18 days compared to alternatives through the Cape of Good Hope and Suez Canal
  • In 2010, U.S. originated cargo accounted for 66% of total cargo movement through the Panama Canal
  • Grain with US origin contributes nearly 6% of revenues to the Panama Canal
  • The Panama Canal transit costs represent less than 1% of the price of corn, soybeans and wheat
  • Over half of all soybeans grown in the United States are exported. Of those exported soybeans, 42% are transported through the Panama Canal; and of the 42% of U.S. soybeans transported through the Canal, 65% are transported to Asia.
  • Soybeans represent the top grain commodity cargo through the canal with over 14 million long tons

A cargo ship passes through the Panama Canal

One issue of particular interest to the Soy Transportation Coalition is the Canal Expansion project that is currently underway. Scheduled to be completed in 2014, the expansion project will take the canal from two lanes to three lanes, doubling the Canal’s capacity.

Listen to Stan Hanson share his thoughts on visiting the Canal.

Executive Director of the Soy Transportation Coaltion, Mike Steenhoek, discusses the importance of the canal and the expansion project.

Have questions or comments about the Soy Transportation Coalition, exports or the Panama Canal? Please post them here!