Partnership Announced for Increased Great Lakes – St. Lawrence Seaway Ag Exports

July 6, 2021 Ohio Soybean Council

One of the widely-acknowledged cardinal rules of supply chain management is to avoid putting too many eggs in one basket. When a shipper can access a variety of transportation modes and providers, the more competitive that shipper will often be in serving its domestic or international customers.

In the effort to continue promoting a more dynamic and diverse supply chain for U.S. soybean farmers, the Soy Transportation Coalition (STC) recently signed an agreement with The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC) to encourage the greater utilization of  the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway (Seaway) in accessing international markets. The agreement extends the SLSMC’s Gateway Incentive Program — a 50 percent reduction on shipping tolls —  for new shipments of soybeans and agricultural freight via the Seaway. The incentive will be available during the 2021 shipping season.

“Customers throughout the world are increasingly  demanding the quality and sustainably-produced soybeans U.S. farmers grow,” says Jonathan Miller, a Kentucky soybean farmer and chairman of the Soy Transportation Coalition. “In order to  successfully meet this demand, the soybean industry needs to explore opportunities to expand and diversify our supply chain. We are very pleased to partner with The St. Lawrence Seaway  Management Corporation in promoting a transportation option that can play a more significant role in accessing our international markets.”

Ohio soybean farmer and STC board member Steve  Reinhard agreed, saying “Diversifying our supply chain through the Great Lakes can only benefit Ohio farmers as our soybeans make their way to international customers.”

The Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway is a deep draft waterway extending 2,340 miles from the Atlantic Ocean to the head of the Great Lakes at Duluth, Minnesota. The Seaway includes 15 locks — 13 in Canada and  two in the U.S. While less than 2% of U.S. soybean exports currently utilize the Seaway, any opportunity to increase supply chain diversity and resiliency will benefit soybean farmers.

“Agriculture  and the Seaway have a long and mutually-beneficial relationship,” says Bruce Hodgson, Director, Market Development at The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation. “By signing an  agreement with the Soy Transportation Coalition for our Gateway Incentive Program, we hope to build on this relationship by demonstrating the numerous benefits and advantages the Seaway  can provide to U.S. farmers.”

Under the agreement with the Soy Transportation Coalition, multiple U.S. soybean and agricultural exporters can avail themselves of the toll reduction. To be eligible  for the toll reduction, cargoes must currently be moving between a specific origin and destination via another supply chain route. An application must be submitted by the shipper prior to the  proposed movement to confirm eligibility. U.S.-based soybean and agricultural shippers interested in exploring the program further can contact Mike Steenhoek, executive director of the Soy  Transportation Coalition at 515-727-0665 or