Rob Joslin, chairman of the American Soybean Association, helped the group to witness the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Panama Canal Authority and the Soy Transportation Coalition to undertake joint initiatives for marketing, data interchange, and market studies regarding modernization and improvements to the Panama Canal. The MOU was signed by Alberto Aleman Zubieta, Administrator/Chief Executive Officer for the Panama Canal Authority and Ed Ulch, STC Chairman and soybean farmer from Solon, Iowa, at an event in Washington, D.C. Other attendees included the Panamanian Ambassador to the United States Mario Jaramillo, U.S. Ambassador and Chief Agriculture Negotiator Islam Siddiqui, congressional staff, soybean farmers and staff representing ASA, the United Soybean Board, and STC, and representatives of numerous agricultural organizations and companies.
Speaking at the event, Joslin, a soybean producer from Sidney, welcomed Administrator Aleman and the Panamanian officials and stressed the importance of the canal in the export of U.S. soybeans.
"The record levels of soybean exports we are experiencing surely would not be possible without the vital link that the canal provides," Joslin says. "While trade markets and exports are going well for U.S. soybean farmers today, we recognize that we have to continually look for ways to improve our competitiveness or else we will be overtaken by our competitors in the global marketplace."
Soybeans and soybean products are the number one United States export commodity. Last year, the U.S. exported a record-setting $23 billion in soybeans, soybean oil and soybean meal. This amount represents one-fifth of all U.S. agricultural exports and over 50 percent of U.S. soybean production.
The Panama Canal expansion provides an opportunity for the United States to improve its international competitiveness, but only if the U.S. makes the decisions and investments necessary to improve internal transportation infrastructure that supports U.S. exports.
"Put simply, the United States needs to modernize our infrastructure and ensure that we are positioned to compete down the road," Joslin says. "As the policy arm of the U.S. soybean industry, the American Soybean Association will continue to work with policymakers to address our current and future transportation modernization infrastructure needs. This includes our ports and inland waterways, as well as our rail industry and highways."
The STC is an organization comprised of the American Soybean Association, United Soybean Board, and nine state soybean boards— Ohio Soybean Council, Illinois Soybean Association, Indiana Soybean Alliance, Iowa Soybean Association, Kansas Soybean Commission, Kentucky Soybean Board, Nebraska Soybean Board, North Dakota Soybean Council, and South Dakota Soybean Research and Promotion Council—to position the U.S. soybean industry to benefit from a transportation system that delivers cost effective, reliable, and competitive service.