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Farmers on the River


Observing and understanding the importance of the United States’ waterways was the goal of a recent lock and dam tour along the Ohio River. The 8th Ohio River Lock Tour was organized by the Indiana Corn Growers Association (ICGA) and Indiana Soybean Alliance (ISA) Membership and Policy Committee. The 150 tour participants traveled along the Ohio River on August 29, passing through the McAlpine Locks and Dam on the Mary M. Miller Riverboat.

“This river tour gives Indiana leaders a close look at the value of our waterways and why they’re important not only to agriculture, but to the state and national economy,” said Anngie Steinbarger, chair of ISA’s Membership and Policy Committee and farmer from Edinburgh, Ind. “Waterways are one of the most efficient forms of transportation, and we want to take steps to ensure they’re well maintained.”

The Ohio River Lock Tour began in 2008 with the goal showing political leaders and the ag community the importance of maintaining a strong U.S. waterway infrastructure. With more than 59.2 million tons of grain shipped from multiple locations down our waterways each year, ISA Membership and Policy Committee and ICGA organized the event to educate farmers about the importance of river transportation to their bottom line and to Indiana’s economy.

“A sound infrastructure keeps commerce moving both directions. Cargo hauled via waterways is one of the cheapest methods of transportation, which is beneficial to the end users,” said Mike Nichols, president of ICGA and farmer from Rockport, Ind. “The tour allows participants – especially Congressional staff – to see how waterways like the Ohio River are used on a daily basis.”

Of the five locks and dams on the Ohio River along Indiana’s southern border, several are operating at twice their intended lifespan. A closure of just one of these locks could cost farmers – and other industries like coal and petroleum – millions in lost revenue.

“Legislators need to know how valuable and strategic the river is for transporting our crops,” said Joe Tuholski, vice chairman of ISA and farmer from Mill Creek, Ind. “Every bushel of grain that is transported via river is one less bushel transported via truck or rail. Without our river system, we lose our competitive advantage over the world.”

This year’s tour was organized by the membership of ISA and ICGA and is sponsored by the Indiana Corn Marketing Council, Indiana Soybean Alliance, Monsanto, Ohio Soybean Council, Conexus Indiana Logistics Council, Farm Credit Mid America, Ohio Corn and Wheat Growers Association, American Consolidated Barge, DuPont Pioneer and the Soy Transportation Coalition.

River Tour 1: Indiana Soybean Alliance and Indiana Corn Growers Association CEO, Jane Ade Stevens, addresses farmers and industry professionals about the importance of waterways to corn and soybean farmers during the 8th Ohio River Tour through the McAlpine Locks and Dam.

River Tour 2: Participants of the 8th Ohio River Tour approach the McAlpine Lock. One hundred and fifty farmers and industry professionals learned more about the importance of maintaining local infrastructure while touring the lock and dam. This year’s tour was organized by the membership of Indiana Soybean Alliance and Indiana Corn Growers Association.