Promoting a cost effective, reliable, and competitive transportation system
Farm To Market IconFARM TO MARKET:
A Soybean's Journey

Full Report
Key Findings


Perhaps no other industry in existence possesses a more diverse and elongated supply chain than agriculture. U.S. agriculture, in general, and the soybean industry, in particular, are heavily vested in and depend upon a myriad of transportation modes to fulfill customer demands. A soybean’s journey requires rural roads and bridges, highways and interstates, freight railroads, the inland waterway system, and ports. Adequately maintaining and investing in each of these modes will be essential to preserve the profitability of the American soybean farmer.


Rural InfrastructureRural Infrastructure
U.S. agriculture can accurately be described as “a 21st century industry utilizing an early 20th century rural infrastructure.” When our nation’s rural roads and bridges were designed and established, the reality of agriculture and rural America was vastly different than it is today. If this critical system is not enhanced to accommodate modern day agriculture, the ability of farmers to feed the world will be diminished.


Highways are not only responsible for enabling motorists to get to their destinations, they are essential for allowing soybeans and other food products to be delivered from where they are grown to where they are consumed. Often, the initial 10-20 mile journey from the farm or the final 10-20 mile journey to the customer will occur via a semi truck. As a result, an efficient and well maintained highway and bridge system is critical to the health of the soybean industry.


Our nation’s freight rail industry provides efficient and reliable transportation between areas of soybean production and areas of consumption. The average mileage haul of a rail car loaded with soybeans is approximately 900 miles. Whether for livestock production in the southwest United States or for export via the Pacific Northwest, railroads often provide the long haul movement that allows the soybean industry to be profitable.

Our nation’s inland waterway system, including our inventory of locks and dams, is not simply a contributing factor to the success of U.S. soybean farmers, it is a dominant one. For much of the key soybean growing regions of the country, barge transportation is the most economical, efficient mode for transporting soybeans to our export terminals. The Mississippi Gulf region accounts for 58 percent of U.S. soybean exports. Approximately 89 percent of soybeans exported from that region arrive via the locks of the U.S. inland waterways.


Take a Virtual Tour through a Lock


Waterways Panama Canal
Each year, approximately 600 million bushels of U.S. soybeans are transported through the Panama Canal – making soybeans the number one agricultural commodity utilizing this key artery for global commerce. The current Panama Canal expansion – completed in 2016 – has the potential to positively impact the ability of U.S. soybean farmers to meet the needs of our international customers.