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Will U.S. ports be ready for record-size cargo ships?

Only a handful of U.S. ports can now handle the big ships that could start coming our way with the expansion of the Panama Canal.

The pending expansion of the Panama Canal holds significant implications for U.S. soybean farmers, who depend on U.S. ports to export their harvested beans around the world, said Phil Bradshaw, a United Soybean Board (USB) past chairman and soybean farmer from Griggsville, Ill.

Bradshaw delivered the remarks during a ceremony held to mark the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Soy Transportation Coalition (STC) and the Panama Canal Authority (ACP), which manages a $5.25 billion expansion of the canal that could likely send record-size ships to U.S. ports starting in 2014.

“Only a handful of U.S. ports can now handle the big ships that could start coming our way,” Bradshaw said.

“And that holds major implications for U.S. soybean farmers because most of our beans leave through southern U.S. ports. We want U.S. farmers to be able to benefit from the expanded canal, but we have a lot of questions about how the expansion will affect U.S. soybean farmers.”

To answer those questions, the checkoff has funded research to measure the impact the expansion will have on the U.S. soybean industry, Bradshaw said. USB expects to release the results in August 2011.

The MOU calls for the STC and ACP to share information, promotion efforts and educational events as the Panama Canal expansion program continues.

For more information on the United Soybean Board, visit us at

For more on the canal expansion see

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