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Port of Baltimore bridge collapse could send ripples through ag supply chain

The director of the Soy Transportation Coalition warns the U.S. agricultural supply chain could feel ripple effects from the Baltimore bridge collapse.

Mike Steenhoek tells Brownfield ocean vessels like the one that struck the Francis Scott Key Bridge early Tuesday typically make multiple stops.

“So the impacts of this is not just going be confined to Baltimore, obviously that’s ground zero. That’s where the problem will be most acutely felt, but it’s also going to have an impact on these other port regions.”

He says those include Norfolk, Virginia and Savannah, Georgia.

“So again, it’s a really big deal when you’ve got a complication and a tragedy like this at one of our ports.”

Steenhoek points out the bridge collapse occurred at a critical spot in the Chesapeake Bay.

“So now you’ve got this massive structure that’s now in that channel, and that’s going to take a considerable period of time to remove that debris so that you can have transit and commerce resume in and out of the Port of Baltimore.”

He says ships currently birthed at the Port are essentially trapped until debris can be cleared.

Steenhoek says while the port is not significant for the movement of soybeans and grain, it is a significant resource for the broader economy.

According to the Coalition, the top ag products handled by the Port of Baltimore are sugar, soybeans, grain products including corn and wheat, and coffee.

  • I predict that focused efforts to remove debris will be initiated as soon as recovery is completed. Huge cranes and other equipment already in or near Baltimore Harbour will be summoned to help with the removal of debris. Cleanup sufficient to resume shipping of at least part of the volume will be restored in weeks, not months as some predict. It’s amazing how quickly recovery and restoration of service (but not reconstruction of the bridge itself) can occur when resources are focused on that recovery.

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