Dredging & Marine Construction

Soybean Farmers Present Check For Deepening

On June 13, soybean farmers met with Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards at the State Capitol in Baton Rouge, La., to present him with a $2 million ceremonial check for the Lower Mississippi River deepening project, representing the amount donated by soybean growers.

In July 2019, the United Soybean Board announced a $2 million allocation to help offset the planning, design and research costs of deepening the Lower Mississippi River from 45 feet to 50 feet. 

The project will cost $245 million, funded 75 percent by the federal government and 25 percent by the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, the non-federal sponsor.  The $2 million provided by the United Soybean Board helps offset some project costs assumed by the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development.

Research by the Soy Transportation Coalition found that shipping costs for soybeans from Mississippi Gulf export terminals would decline 13 cents per bushel ($5 per metric ton) once the Lower Mississippi River is dredged to 50 feet. A deeper river will allow both larger ships to be used and current ships to be loaded with more revenue-producing freight.  Average vessel loads will increase from 2.4 million bushels of soybeans (66,000 metric tons) to 2.9 million bushels (78,000 metric tons)—an increase of 500,000 bushels or 21 percent.

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The deepening project received formal approval by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in February 2020, and work began in September 2020.  The COVID pandemic put the check presentation plans on a lengthy hold.

“This project is a terrific example of teamwork between Midwest agriculture and southern Louisiana,” Bel Edwards said. “What happens down here impacts what happens up there [and vice versa]. There is a strong relationship between U.S. farmers in the Midwest and southern Louisiana. Sixty percent of the nation’s grains are exported down the river. We believe we can get to 70 percent, but to do that, we’ve got to go from 45 feet to 50 feet up here to Baton Rouge.”