WJ Editorial
WJ Editorial

Key Waterways Ally Celebrates Its 125th Anniversary

This year, the National Grain and Feed Association celebrates its 125th anniversary. NGFA is one of the many, many ag organizations closely allied with the barge industry, and it’s one of the oldest and most important. Together they amplify our industry’s voice in Congress. When the NGFA was founded in 1896, The Waterways Journal had only been publishing for nine years, covering a barge industry that many believed was on the verge of extinction as railroads threatened to outcompete it. 

The NGFA’s members—farmers, grain elevator operators, seed companies, terminal managers and farm suppliers—knew better. As prime customers of barge transport, they know better than anyone the importance of low-cost, reliable water transportation. NGFA members have been consistent and staunch supporters of waterways improvement projects. It’s safe to say that many important water infrastructure projects would not have gotten built without the support of ag interests. 

NGFA members are frequently members of barge industry organizations as well. NGFA newsletters regularly urge members to closely attend to waterways infrastructure bills in Congress, paying special attention to the Navigation and Ecosystem Sustainability Program (NESP).

The symbiosis between the NGFA and the barge industry goes beyond common support of infrastructure, though. Back in 2020, NGFA set up an affiliated organization, National Grain and Feed Digital Solutions (NGFADS) (WJ, July 20, 2020).

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Beginning November 2, NGFADS rolled out its landmark Barge Digital Transformation Platform, enabling those who trade barge freight to transmit bills of lading and other documents digitally, bringing back-end services into the digital age and offering a huge cost savings in reduced paperwork, delivery costs and administrative support services. The NGFA worked with a Malta-based company, essDOCS, that specialized in transitioning banks and companies to digital logistics and has customers in 203 countries. The project was jointly funded by companies including American Commercial Barge Line and Ingram Marine Group as well as Bunge North America, Gavilon, Louis Dreyfus, Zen-Noh, CGB Enterprises, Cargill, Archer Daniels Midland and CHS. 

The digital platform has been called “one of the most significant new commercial services to be offered by any trade association in recent history.” It’s a stellar achievement that adds to the efficiency and value of waterways movements. 

We are sure that the NGFA, with its eye firmly on the future, will continue to serve its members’ interests with dedication and solid benefits for the next 125 years of its life.