KANSAS CITY , Mo. (NAFB) — The grand opening of the Panama Canal expansion was held this past weekend. Larger vessels that can hold nearly double the amount of grain cornand oil seeds can now move through the canal. Soy Transpiration Coalition Executive Director Mike Steenhoek says the infrastructure improvement could help U.S. farmers through on-farm prices.

“Usually in our industry is when you have those cost escalators when they occur, those cost are not passed onto the customer they’re assessed onto the farmer and the origination side,” sayd Steenhoek. “As a result when you do have greater transportation efficiency and you’re able to deliver product from point A to point B at a lower price point, that has been a benefit to the farmer in a form of being able to realize or achieve a higher percentage of the market value of what you produce.”

However, he says, the U.S. needs to improve its own waterways system to handle the expansion. “So that should hopefully spur us to continue to deepen and widen our channel in the lower Mississippi river. Then we need to take another step back and make sure our waterway systems including our locks and dams are able to handle this increased demand, and making sure their sufficiently reliable,” says Steenhoek.