Exporting the crops can be harder than growing them. That’s because farming and transportation interest groups say the nation has gotten behind on construction and maintenance of travel routes. “We are beneficiaries of the investments that have been made decades ago,” says Soy Transportation Coalition executive director Mike Steenhoek, citing the interstate highway system and locks and dams. “We need to kind of get back to that kind of mindset.”
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“The days of just harvesting crops and taking them to the local elevator, and the local elevator taking them to a river terminal or a railhead have changed,” says Matt Hart, executive director of the Illinois Trucking Association. “Today we’re taking intermodal containers that bring products from Asia. We’re actually filling them up with soybeans and other products and sending them back to Asia.”
Both men say other nations – Brazil and China, to name two – have gotten ahead of the U.S. when it comes to bolstering and improving transportation networks. Hart says his constituents prefer paying a motor fuel tax to tolls, believing it’s fairer.