September has arrived in the blink of an eye and the harvest season in Indiana is once again at hand. Since the founding of our great state, agriculture has played a significant role in our livelihood. Because of our highly productive, prime farmland soils, Indiana is nationally known for its superior agricultural production.
We often take for granted that we can go to the grocery store and find an abundance of fresh, locally grown products. We forget that without the diligent work of Hoosier families, laboring day-in and day-out on farms across this state, our own family tables would lack that fresh produce and dinner simply wouldn’t be the same.
However, even with all of that hard work, the process is not over. We still need a way to transport these local goods throughout Indiana and throughout the country so that others may enjoy them. That is where the Ohio River comes in.
The Ohio River is a major shipping route for Indiana corn, soybeans and wheat. These are some of the top agriculture commodities produced in Indiana. Of the 51 million bushels of soybeans shipped out of Indiana in 2011, 34 percent were shipped by barge on the Ohio River. Most of these crops traveled hundreds and hundreds of miles to the Port of New Orleans.
Southeastern Indiana is home to numerous barge building companies which have served our state for many years. Some, beginning as small coal moving companies, have over the years grown into some of the largest and most diversified marine transportation and manufacturing companies in the United States.
Barge transportation is an excellent shipping alternative to the already full railroad lines. It is also the most economical and most environmentally friendly way to move soybeans to foreign and domestic markets.
As you can see, the Ohio River serves as a major mover of Indiana crops. In particular, Indiana soybeans that originate on the Ohio River, reach their final destinations in markets around the world where they are used for a variety of purposes. Of the 238 million bushels produced in 2011, 208 million were crushed into oil and meal for use for livestock feed, biodiesel, industrial uses and human consumption. Twenty-three million bushels were shipped for out-of-state use.
As we approach fall and Hoosiers begin gathering the crops they have spent months raising, I want us all to take a moment to appreciate their hard work and the dividends that it provides to our great state. I wish everyone a safe and healthy 2013 harvest and bushels and barrels full of the finest crops Indiana has to offer.