Mike Steenhoek was front and center when corn and soybean growers went through the lock and dam west of Louisville on the Ohio River last August. He shared with them how that although that particular lock is one of the newest and most efficient, locks and dams in the country's river navigation system as a whole are in need of updating. Some 27 of 29 locks and dams on the Mississippi are still only 600 feet long, meaning a barge tow must split its load and take one half through at a timed.
Steenhoek is executive director of the Soy Transportation Coalition, set up by the soybean boards of nine Midwest states to focus on transportation issues. This past fall he and his staff paid careful attention to how well railroads responded to the quick harvest and sudden glut of grain that needed moving.
Overall, as reported earlier, the system withstood the onslaught better than expected. However, there was better service on some lines than on others. In Indiana, for example, one major buyer of fertilizer reported to Indiana Prairie Farmer that service was undependable last fall and that dealing with rail service in his area was inconsistent at best.
Each state has members who serve on the Board of Directors that guide Steenhoek and his staff on the projects that the associations would like to see emphasized. The two Indiana representatives until the first of this year were Joe Meyer, Williamsburg, and Jerry Osterholt from Roanoke. Since their term limits expired on the Indiana Soy Alliance Board, two new directors to the Soy Coalition were appointed in the last few weeks.
New board members from the Indiana Soybean Alliance serving on the Soy Transportation Coalition Board are Joe Steinkamp from Evansville and Mike Morehouse from New Paris. Ironically, the two men are from opposite ends of Indiana.
The first meeting they will attend as Indiana representatives to the Soy Transportation Coalition will be at a full meeting of the group's Board of Directors at Tampa, Fl., on March 2.
If you have questions for the soy coalition, you can reach Steenhoek by emailing him directly at: [email protected] The group's overall purpose is to develop an awareness of the need to push for support for good infrastructure for hauling commodities in this country. Infrastructure has been one of the advantages for the U.S. in the past, but the infrastructure is aging and needs continual updating. That costs money, which requires the support of Congress plus the industries involved. Expect the Soy Transportation Coalition to keep beating the drum so that key people pay attention to these needs.