Home 5 Ag Stories Newly expanded Panama Canal opens Sunday

Newly expanded Panama Canal opens Sunday

by Ben Nuelle LISTEN: World of Agriculture 6-20-16

The inaugural transit of the newly expanded Panama Canal will take place this Sunday. Mike Steenhoek is Executive Director of the Soy Transportation Coalition. He visited the Panama Canal over the winter months and gets to go back.

“I’ll have the opportunity to be down there for the inaugural transit. The current canal is very important to the viability to the U.S. Soybean industry. About 600 million bushels of U.S. soybeans transit the canal every year. That is the number one agriculture commodity that utilizes the canal. We think that number will increase once the canal is expanded.”

Steenhoek says the current canal can’t handle many of the large ships that crisscross our oceans.

“The people of Panama and the Panama Canal Authority decided to undertake this project which means a number of things which means increasing the size of the lock chambers. This so they can handle ships that are larger but also sink to a greater depth into the water.”

He says the transportation cost will increase slightly.

“But the amount of additional freight you’ll be able to put on it will more than recover. As a result, you will be able to deliver soybeans and other agricultural products to customers particularly in Asia at a lower per bushel cost.”

The Panama Canal expansion opens Sunday June 26th.