The United Soybean Board (USB) recently announced a $2 million allocation to help offset the planning, design, and research costs of deepening the lower Mississippi River from 45 ft. to 50 ft.
As the USB reported, the 256-mile stretch of the Mississippi River from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to the Gulf of Mexico accounts for 60% of U.S. soybean exports, along with 59% of corn exports – by far the leading export region for both commodities.
There is a growing effort among Mississippi River stakeholders, including agriculture, to promote the dredging of the lower river shipping channel from 45 ft. to 50 ft. in depth, the USB said.
The overall project is estimated to cost $245 million and would occur in three phases. Two of the phases will be cost-shared between the federal government (75%) and non-federal sources (25%). The State of Louisiana has been designated as the obligated non-federal entity.
The phase one includes dredging from Venice, Louisiana (approximately Mile 10 Above Head of Passes [AHP]) to the Gulf of Mexico. Removing this bottleneck would provide a 50-ft. deep channel to approximately Mile 154 [AHP] of the river.
A substantial number of soybean and grain export terminals are located within this portion of the river. The estimated cost of this phase is $100 million.
Given a 75% federal and a 25% non-federal cost share, the federal obligation would be $75 million, and the non-federal obligation would be $25 million.
The phase two includes dredging from Mile 154 AHP to Baton Rouge, Louisiana (Mile 232 AHP). The remaining soybean and grain export terminals would be included in the 50-ft. shipping channel upon completion of this phase.
The estimated cost of this phase is $65 million. Given a 75% federal and a 25% non-federal cost share, the federal obligation would be $48.75 million, and the non-federal obligation would be $16.25 million.
The third phase calls for the relocation of pipelines buried under the northern portion of the shipping channel. The estimated $80 million cost of doing so would be split evenly between the State of Louisiana and the pipeline owners.