Group tours the Panama Canal

Ever wonder where all the soybeans you grow on your farm go? Representatives from state soybean organizations found out there are great people and companies using Iowa soybeans throughout Latin America, specifically in countries like Panama and Costa Rica.

Today the group made up of executive directors, international marketing staff and communication staff members had the opportunity to see ships move through the Panama Canal. Many of the soybeans grown in the United States are shipped to Asian markets using the Panama Canal to make it to those markets in the most efficient and cost effective way.

A ship filled with grain begins the process of navigating the Panamas Canal heading west to east.

A ship filled with grain begins the process of navigating the Panamas Canal heading west to east.

Shipments of grain are second only to container ships that navigate through the Panama Canal. Each year over 14,000 vessels pass through the canal on the way to over 144 maritime routes in 80 countries.

That capacity will grow in efficiency and will double through the expansion of the waterway by means of a third set of locks. The Panamanian government hopes to have the new locks open by the year 2014.

Not all of the U.S. grown soybeans pass through the canal on the way to other markets. Some stay in the region and provide great products to agriculture businesses in Costa Rica and Panama to name a few.

Members of the soybean organization tour hosted by the United States Soybean Export Council (USSEC) and the Ameican Soybean Association International Marketing found out first-hand by touring a soy aquaculture farm in Costa Rica and feed mills in Panama.

One farm the group toured was where they grow fish for Rain Forest Tilapia Company. The company feeds 15,000 to 18,000 metric tons of soymeal per year to fish at the farm. One hundred percent of the soybean meal is imported from farmers in the U.S. The fish are then returned to the states as great tasting fillets that can be bought in Costco and other retail outlets.

Originally published for the Iowa Soybean Association.