The Soy Transportation Coalition announced Monday that Joel Schreurs has been elected secretary-treasurer for 2017.
Schreurs, of Tyler, Minn., has represented the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council as the sole Minnesotan on the STC board for several years.
“This is the first time I’ve run for secretary-treasurer,” he says. “I’ve never ran for office, but I figured since I’ve been on the board for about five years, it was time to step up.”
The Soy Transportation Coalition, based in Ankeny, Iowa, had 21 board members in fiscal year 2016 and is designed to improve, grow and promote transportation options within the United States.
“We work with a lot of different avenues, and our objective is to bring to light different areas that are problematic,” Schreurs says. “When transportation is made more readily available, within that, it makes soybean farmers more profitable and competitive in the world market.”
Advances in transportation are imperative to the economic vitality of soybean growers, Schreurs says.
“A lot of farmers don’t realize that their businesses are very much dependent on transportation,” he says. “Not only our local roads and bridges, but our transportation to export commodities to Asia and different areas around the world.”
The STC is pursuing the prospect of deepening a 10-mile stretch at the mouth of the Mississippi River to accommodate larger shipping vessels.
“We’re looking at how much money and return-on-investment that would bring in,” Schreurs says. “With the world going to bigger and bigger vessels all the time, we could be a little more competitive and have a bigger market in the Midwest.”
The STC also works with the National Transportation Safety Board on railways, and the lock and dam system.
“In Minnesota, we don’t have as many soybeans going out through the lock and dam system, but if we don’t keep that competitive, then the market is going to be worse,” he says, “and therefore ours will be worse, too.”
Patience is often paramount in the transportation industry, Schreurs admits. There are few quick fixes.
“It can seem like a slower pace at times when you’re working with the Corps of Engineers on projects,” he says. “These projects don’t happen overnight, so you have to be invested in transportation for the long haul.”
Schreurs is also an active Minnesota Soybean Growers Association and American Soybean Association director, and a member of the Lincoln County Corn and Soybean Growers.