St. Louis was a hub of agriculture activity this week as USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack visited a local grain elevator.  The Ag Secretary’s visit was to draw attention to, and encourage support for, the Korean Trade Agreement. 

According to Vilsack, the Gateway City was an ideal location for a conversation regarding agriculture exports.

 Audio:  Vilsack

For years river transportation on the Mississippi has been a hot topic.  The lock and dam structures on the river are imperative when it comes to shipping millions of dollars worth of Midwest commodities to other countries.  According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers some of the lock and dam structures date back nearly 50 to 70 years.  That’s why many farm groups have encouraged updates to the U.S. river system. 

When asked the likelihood of those improvements taking place, the Ag Secretary says he posed the same question to Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill.

Audio:  Vilsack 2

Vilsack says dredging and other improvements to the lock and dam system need to be considered, along with updates to the U.S. highway and rail systems. 

According to the National Parks Service website, the Mississippi River Basin produces 92% of the nation’s agricultural exports.  That’s equivalent to 78% of the world’s exports in feed grains and soybeans.

Sixty percent of all grain exported from the U.S. travels via the Mississippi River through the Port of New Orleans and the Port of South Louisiana.