Accelerate Illinois: Your soymilk doesn’t just walk to the grocery store - Metropolitan Planning Council

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Accelerate Illinois: Your soymilk doesn’t just walk to the grocery store

Illinois Soybean Association.

Soybeans play an important role in Illinois’ economy, but they need a functional transportation system to get to market.

Illinois is the nation’s soybean capital, producing more of this important crop than any other state. In fact, in 2014 Illinois produced a record-breaking yield of 550 million bushels of soybeans—that’s a lot of animal feed and biodiesel!

All that production means more than just jobs for farmers; the soybean industry creates jobs in transportation, processing, livestock, research and more—all supporting the Illinois economy. In and of themselves, soybeans contribute $5 billion to the gross state product each year.

But in order to have any value, soybeans must have a reliable transportation system to move from the field to end consumers. After harvest, soybeans are transported by truck, mostly to in-state elevators or processing facilities. Approximately 44 percent of the soybeans grown in Illinois are exported to overseas customers, leaving the state by rail or waterways.

Illinois’ ability to continue offering the world a sustainable, reliable supply of soybeans is threatened by our state’s aging transportation systems. That’s why the Illinois Soybean Association has joined with Accelerate Illinois in support of newly dedicated and reliable revenues for transportation infrastructure, including rail, roads and waterways.

Lack of maintenance on the state’s infrastructure can have deteriorating effects on the ability to get soybeans to market. For example, a failed waterway system could create an additional 58 million truck trips annually, congesting our already crowded roads. Additionally, weight limits on bridges can force farmers to detour as much as 50 miles, significantly cutting into farmer profits and impacting the cost-competitiveness of Illinois agriculture.

See how Illinois’ vast and aging transportation system impacts the soybean industry in this video from the Illinois Soybean Association:

The Illinois Soybean Association is working to avoid transportation roadblocks by encouraging additional infrastructure investment. Working in collaboration with other commodity groups, government agencies and industry representatives, the Association is pursuing a public-private partnership pilot project to rehabilitate the Illinois River lock system. They are also working to establish the use of containers to transport soybeans, which will improve movement to Asia.

These improvements require additional state funding to move forward. Accelerate Illinois is encouraging legislators in the state general assembly to support a capital bill that will reinforce our thriving agriculture industry and keep the state’s economy on the right track.

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