A Nebraska farmer was at the recent opening of the expanded Panama Canal and says it illustrates how more countries are investing in infrastructure upgrades to compete in the global marketplace.
U.S. Grains Council chairman Alan Tiemann, of Seward, says the ability to handle larger ships will improve U.S. export sales.
“The main ships that are going to traverse the canal now are going to be container ships,” Tiemann says. “We do ship a lot of distillers grains via container. Hopefully, a lot of larger ships are going to see better freight rates and quicker response times on those containers moving through the Panama Canal.”
Tiemann says the canal’s expansion sends a message that the U.S. needs to upgrade its own infrastructure to remain a global leader.
“This new set of locks almost triples the capacity of what could go through the old locks,” Tiemann says. “It’s really something to see and makes a statement to the world that infrastructure is important and as we look here in the U.S., the importance of maintaining our waterways and all of our infrastructure systems to meet the global demands.”
Tiemann says several ag groups are pushing Congress to pass legislation to upgrade and repair locks and dams in the U.S.
“It’s been a mission of a lot of the commodity groups, especially being involved with the National Corn Growers,” he says. “They’ve lobbied hard to work with the Corps of Engineers and Congress to try and get funds allocated to upgrade and at least maintain some of the locks across the country that are so important to agriculture.”
Tiemann says the Grains Council is working to make sure trade agreements are approved that will also enhance U.S. exports.
By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton