On Wednesday, March 9, 2022, in New Orleans, Louisiana, the Illinois Soybean Board had the opportunity to tour a Cargill Export Facility during Commodity Classic. Illinois soybeans often travel down the Mississippi River and are brought here where they are then put onto ships to be taken to international buyers. Board members and guests visited Cargill’s control room where the quality of soybeans is assessed for each load by both Cargill and the USDA. They also toured the dock where ships are loaded to take U.S. soybeans across the world.
Here is what some of the Illinois Soybean Board Directors have to say about the importance of seeing where they soybeans they grow and harvest go after leaving their fields in the fall.
“It was great to see firsthand how efficient the port facility at Cargill was. I was impressed with the speed they can unload a barge, a 40,000 bushel per hour capacity. We were allowed to see this up close and it was pretty amazing to watch. All of the loading and unloading are linked to computers in the control room which was neat to see the grain move on the screens. This was a great tour and I came away from it understanding first-hand the capacity is there to ship soybeans to our customers in a very timely manner.” -Ron Kindred, Vice Chairman of the Illinois Soybean Board
“The educational opportunity of viewing Cargill’s grain operation in New Orleans during Commodity Classic reinforced the tremendous value Illinois soybean farmers enjoy with an efficient waterway system. The recent funding of improvements to our waterways will ensure Illinois farmers remain a leading exporter of soybeans and they will continue to enjoy more profitability with a reliable transportation system enhanced with partner companies like Cargill.” -Scott Gaffner, Market Development Chairman, At-Large Director of the Illinois Soybean Board
“My sons and I were astonished at the sheer number of bushels that were unloaded from barges that were grown here in the United States, then quickly those same bushels were loaded on a ship bound for around the world!” -Bryan Severs, District 7 Director
With over 60% of Illinois soybeans exported overseas, the conversation of where soybeans go after leaving the farm is more evident and needed than ever. This was an opportunity to have a working understanding to converse with farmers in Illinois about where their soybeans may go after they leave the farm.
Illinois Soybean Board Directors look on during the Cargill Export Facility tour.
Each screen in the Cargill Export Facility has a specific job, often tracking the flow of product being unloaded from a barge and then reloaded onto a ship after being checked for the quality.
Illinois Soybean Board Director, Jeff O’Connor observes a ship that is being loaded. It can take up to a week to be loaded with all the product to be sent around the world.
Illinois Soybean Board Directors, David Wessel and Bryan Severs observe as a barge is unloaded after completing its journey down to New Orleans and then a panamax vessel is loaded with the same grain to be sent overseas.