AgroNomics vision Presentations
Conway explained a trend toward improved eastern and southeastern sea ports in the U.S., including major developments with inland ports being built a hundred miles up from historic cities such as Charleston, S.C., or Savannah, Ga. He noted that processing plants are and will spring up near new ports so that processed goods and meats can be container shipped. This is more efficient than shipping grain in bulk transports, he said.
LOCATION AS AN ADVANTAGE
Being located near rail and ports should be reflected in higher land prices throughout the nation, Conway said. “One of the things we are not getting credit for in agricultural land is location advantages in the supply chain and distribution—access to roads, access to rail and access to ports,” he said.
Conway proclaimed that the U.S. has a terrible national infrastructure because money that should be used for infrastructure upgrades is being stolen by the executive and legislative branches of the federal government for purposes contrary to transportation tax and trust money’s original purposes.
But rail shipping will improve with direct routes pretty much in place from the Midwest to eastern container ports.
“Match-back” of containers loaded with imported goods and East Coast manufactured items can be back filled in the Midwest with grain headed for export or processing facilities. Containers double stacked on rail cars is the way of the future, outside of the outdated infrastructure around cities of the North and Northeast, according to Conway.
Even if bulk shipments can be sent to California, Conway contends the 8,000 mile shortcut through the ungraded Panama Canal by 2016 will make the southeastern ports competitive in shipping to all parts of the world including Asia. Part of it has to do with West Coast big city ports having extremely burdensome, expensive union contracts and slow operations compared to the non-union southern ports. In the near future, Conway said he sees 70 percent of the traffic that goes out of Portland, Ore., disappearing because of labor union contract problems.
The Panama Canal currently can accommodate a ship carrying up to 5,000 containers, but starting in 2016, a ship carrying up to 12,500 containers will be able to go through the canal.
As Conway further noted, ports in the South and upgraded ports of the Great Lakes make it easier to service nations of South America, Europe and even Russia. Doing business with all the developing and emerging nations of the world is of major importance for the U.S. ag economy.