By TIM ALEXANDER
ANKENY, Iowa — Soy Transportation Coalition (STC) Executive Director Mike Steenhoek was looking forward to having a seat at the table when the U.S. Department of Commerce’s newly established Advisory Committee on Supply Chain Competitiveness met for the first time a few weeks ago.
He was appointed to the committee, which is comprised of 40 senior-level private sector industry representatives and supply chain experts, by Acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank. The committee’s assignment is to advise the Commerce Secretary, the U.S. Department of Transportation and other federal agencies on supply chain issues that affect businesses’ ability to compete internationally.
Steenhoek appreciates Blank’s recognition of the importance of transportation to American global competitiveness. “In particular, I appreciate the department’s insistence that agriculture has a seat at the table. I look forward to highlighting the transportation challenges facing the soybean industry,” he said.
The advisory committee will function as a liaison between industry and government to help ensure regular contact with supply chain industries such as manufacturers, distributors and exporters. National freight policy will likely be influenced by the committee’s recommendations, including facets of President Obama’s National Export Initiative, which seeks to double U.S. exports by 2015.
“In order to be competitive in today’s global economy, American manufacturers need to be able to move products and goods securely, quickly, and efficiently within our borders and beyond,” Blank announced.
“The (committee) will provide crucial input on issues related to national freight infrastructure and policies so that we can best support millions of U.S. businesses (to) export goods, compete domestically and globally and support American jobs.”
Steenhoek said he would focus on bringing to any future discussions of the advisory committee an emphasis on all predominant modes of transportation, rather than one or two.
“I routinely will explain that agriculture has arguably the most diverse and elongated supply chain of any industry in existence. We are heavily vested in rural roads, highways, railroads, inland waterways and ports. For me to perform my duties with the (STC) appropriately, I must be engaged in all of these modes” Steenhoek said.
“Some of the other members are primarily focused on only one mode (i.e., rail, ports or trucking). It’s important that whatever we recommend, we promote a transportation infrastructure that provides a seamless transition from one mode to another.”