Illinois Soybean Growers (ISG) recently joined farmers and stakeholders from around the state to discuss local infrastructure issues that both limit and enable agricultural efficiency and profitability. The groups shared insights and brainstormed possible solutions at a series of Transportation Issues Forums March 3-4.
Forums were held in Sycamore, West Peoria and Bloomington, Ill., and attendees included ISG directors, local farmers and community leaders. The goal was to facilitate conversations on the need for local infrastructure improvements. Directors listened to attendees’ experiences and shared their concerns, including where and how improvements can be made.
“Illinois farmers experienced a record harvest in 2014. But if growers can’t get their crops to the destination by the most efficient route possible, time and money are wasted,” says Mike Levin, ISG director of issues management analysis. “Our customers need reliable suppliers. To meet their needs, we must address obstacles in our transportation system starting at the local level.”
Topics discussed included posted road weight limits, opportunities for higher truck weights, and funding for local roads and bridges that support agricultural traffic.
“When I started farming I took grain to the elevator by pulling two wagons holding 200 bushels each with a tractor,” says Duane Dahlman, soybean farmer from Marengo, Ill., and ISG director. “Now the smallest truck at the elevator holds 600 bushels. We’re putting more weight and more stress on our roads and bridges. It’s important that we address and stay ahead of these issues to make sure we get grain moved efficiently and safely.”
Much of the discussion focused on budget availability and allocation of funds for local infrastructure priorities. Participants agreed on the importance for farmers, commodity organizations, local communities, legislators and other stakeholders to identify new revenues and utilize existing ones in the most efficient ways possible.
Issues discussed at the forums will help guide ISG’s transportation and infrastructure efforts during the next year. “These meetings are crucial because they give farmers an opportunity to voice their transportation concerns,” says Levin. “By holding open forums, we work together to find solutions that will help the soybean supply chain from the local to the state level.”
To learn more about ISG transportation initiatives, visit www.ilsoy.org/transportation.
Illinois Soybean Growers (ISG) is a membership organization serving more than 45,000 Illinois soybean growers. ISG provides advocacy in Springfield and Washington, D.C., to promote the interests of soybean farmers, and research, promotion and education programs that enhance soybean production and use. For more information, visit the websitewww.ilsoygrowers.org.
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