Transportation Go! reconvenes for ag transportation discussions

Published On: March 18, 2024Categories: 2024 Event News

Ag transportation conference will return to Minneapolis March 12-13, 2025

Transportation Go! returned to the Great Lakes region March 13-14 in Toledo, Ohio, for two days of solution-seeking discussions among those involved in agricultural transportation. Hosted by the Specialty Soya and Grains Alliance (SSGA), the event brought together about 120 growers, port authorities, shippers, suppliers and others involved in transporting agricultural products.

A panel of representatives of Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway ports talked about opportunities, infrastructure updates and ways they work together to ensure cargo travels efficiently along the St. Lawrence Seaway enroute to its destination.

In the 1970s, the seaway moved 80 million tons of cargo per year, but only handled 36 million tons in 2023.

“There are all kinds of opportunities for moving cargo on the system,” said David Gutheil, chief commercial officer for the Port of Cleveland. “Let’s stop getting excited when we handle 40 million; that should not happen. Let’s handle more.”

The panel sees a feeder service as the next opportunity for Great Lakes shipping and aspires to develop markets in Asia.

Other modes of transportation were also discussed at the conference, including speakers covering trucking, rail and ocean shipping topics.

Michelle Schultz of the Surface Transportation Board (STB), an independent federal agency responsible for regulating various modes of surface transportation, primarily freight rail, answered questions along with Max Vekich of the Federal Maritime Commission, an independent federal agency that regulates U.S. international ocean transportation.

“Transportation Go!  is one of the most important conferences my business attends each year,” said Bob Sinner of SB&B Foods. “To have the opportunity to network with federal leaders and major ocean shippers in an intimate setting is invaluable.”

Hardy Pearson from Hapag-Lloyd and Jaeson Dandalides of CMA CGM presented about ocean carrier opportunities, including their companies’ plans for equipment updates and sustainability. Pearson also addressed Hapag-Lloyd’s stance to not travel through the Suez Canal after several vessels have been attacked by the Houthi group from Yemen.

For the second year, Transportation Go! attendees included the next generation of the logistics and transportation industry. Students and their advisers from the University of Toledo studying in the Department of Information Systems and Supply Chain Management were special guests at the conference. A presentation from Mark Stewart of Agriculture Future of America (AFA) gave attendees ideas on how to turn Gen Z into Gen T [Transportation].

Stewart talked about characteristics and trends among Gen Zers, which account for about 27% of the U.S. population this year. He suggested making logistics and transportation stand out to attract this generation to pursue jobs in the industry.

“Gen Z wants to find solutions and do work that has purpose,” Stewart said. “And when they have a great experience, they will share that with others.”

The event ended with tours of the Port of Toledo and Port of Monroe. The event will return March 12-13, 2025, in Minneapolis.