A ship passing through the Panama Canal waterway was a bit more special that normal on June 26; the ceremonial ship signified the opening of the Panama Canal expansion.
The expansion was announced almost a decade ago and the U.S. Grains Council had eagerly awaited the day the expansion would open. The expansion included a new set of locks which allow for wider, longer and heavier loaded ships, including Capesize vessels, to pass through the canal.
"The Canal is a vital trade route for all grains and other agricultural commodities that are shipped from the U.S. Corn Belt to Asia," USGC Chairman Alan Tiemann, who attended the ceremony, said. "In fact, with the completion of this project, it is estimated that the cost to transport grain between those two points will drop. The Canal's expansion and resulting decreases in shipping costs and time will improve competitiveness of U.S. grains in growing markets. This will help U.S. farmers gain access to new markets and continue to expand sales with buyers in our established markets who want more efficient shipments of grain."
The USGC plans to make the expanded canal a highlight of the organization’s 14th International Marketing Conference and 57th Annual Membership which will be held in Panama City on Feb. 13-15, 2017. Until then, interested parties may obtain more information on the project by visiting the Panama Canal Authority’s website.