Ohio Agribusiness Association

11/07/2022 | News release | Distributed by Public on 11/07/2022 12:43

Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway: An Alternative Worth Exploring

In the effort to continue promoting a more dynamic and diverse supply chain for U.S. soybean farmers, the Soy Transportation Coalition (STC) has continued its partnership with The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC) to encourage the greater utilization of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway (Seaway) in accessing international markets. Specifically, the partnership extends the SLSMC's "Gateway Incentive Program" - a 50% reduction on shipping tolls - for new shipments of soybeans and agricultural freight via the Seaway.

The Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway is a deep draft waterway extending 2,340 miles from the Atlantic Ocean to the head of the Great Lakes at Duluth, Minnesota. The Seaway includes 15 locks - 13 in Canada and two in the U.S.

During this time in which supply chain challenges are being encountered from multiple directions, it is very timely to consider the Seaway as another option for U.S. agriculture to access international customers. The Seaway is open for business and is willing and able to be an effective lifeline for farmers and agricultural shippers in a number of regions of the country. A number of key soybean-producing states are adjacent to the Seaway:





683.2 million bushels



356.3 million bushels



338.4 million bushels



278.2 million bushels



113.9 million bushels



109.1 million bushels



31.5 million bushels


New York

17 million bushels


While less than 2% of U.S. soybean exports currently utilize the Seaway, any opportunity to increase supply chain diversity and resiliency will benefit soybean farmers. Given the significance of the inland waterway system and the freight rail network in transporting U.S. soybeans and grain, the Seaway is not able to simply absorb all that these other modes regularly accommodate. Moreover, there are regions of the country that are too far removed from the Seaway for it to be a viable option. However, there are a growing number of farmers and agricultural shippers who are increasingly exploring supply chain alternatives. The Seaway is certainly an option that should be explored and utilized for certain agricultural regions.

Under the agreement with the Soy Transportation Coalition, multiple U.S. soybean and agricultural exporters can avail themselves of the toll reduction. To be eligible for the toll reduction, cargoes must currently be moving between a specific origin and destination via another supply chain route. The key highlights of the Gateway Incentive Agreement are as follows:

  • Must be new freight utilizing the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Seaway
  • Toll reduction of 50%
  • 75,000 metric ton minimum threshold
  • Separate exporters can be aggregated to achieve the 75,000 metric ton threshold under the Soy Transportation Coalition agreement and all receive the 50% toll reduction (for example):
    • Exporter #1: 25,000 metric tons of new business
    • Exporter #2: 25,000 metric tons of new business
    • Exporter #3: 25,000 metric tons of new business
  • Eligible commodities: soybeans, soy products, grain, or grain products

An application must be submitted by the shipper prior to the proposed movement to confirm eligibility. U.S. based soybean and agricultural shippers interested in exploring the program further can contact Mike Steenhoek, executive director of the Soy Transportation Coalition at 515-727-0665 or [email protected].

Those agricultural shippers interested in further exploring the Seaway can contact the following Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway port authorities:

Port of Cleveland (Ohio)
David Gutheil, Chief Commercial Officer
[email protected]

Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority (Ohio)
Joe Cappel, Vice President of Business Development
[email protected]

Port of Burns Harbor (Indiana)
Ryan McCoy, Port Director
[email protected]

Port of Oswego Authority (New York)
William Schriber, Executive Director
[email protected]

Duluth Seaway Port Authority (Minnesota)
Deb DeLuca, Executive Director
[email protected]

Port of Milwaukee (Wisconsin)
Maria Cartier, Market Development Manager
[email protected]