Savannah now the top US port for ag exports

Local News

photo: Georgia Ports Authority

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – The Port of Savannah’s proximity to major producers, direct access via road and rail, broad global network and responsiveness to customer needs have recently made it the top port in the nation for the export of containerized agricultural goods.

In 2019, agriculture accounted for 60 percent of Savannah’s exports. Forest products such as wood pulp, paper and logs made up the largest category of goods, followed by clay, cotton, poultry and peanuts.

“Agriculture is a major driver for Georgia’s economy, contributing $74 billion in annual economic benefit and nearly 400,000 jobs across the state,” said Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp. “As this country’s No. 1 port for the export of agricultural products, Savannah provides vital support for the state and nation, helping our farmers reach overseas buyers efficiently.”

For the fiscal year to date (July 2019-May 2020), total loaded exports have increased by 15,500 twenty-foot equivalent container units to 1.33 million TEUs.

“The production of raw material and agricultural goods, along with their supply chains, have remained strong throughout the pandemic,” said Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) Executive Director Griff Lynch.

On-terminal projects to expand export capacity have continued throughout the crisis, including the Mason Mega Rail, with the first nine of 18 new working tracks complete and two new rail-mounted gantry cranes slated to begin work in July.

GPA’s inland terminal, the Appalachian Regional Port, has seen increased volumes and export commodities coming from Northwest Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama. At the Port of Savannah, GPA has increased its on-time performance of vessel operations to achieve its best performance in three years. 

“GPA’s laser focus on the seamless flow of export commodities and the impressive growth at the ARP have created new avenues for American farmers to serve international customers,” said GPA Board Chairman Will McKnight.

Lynch recently addressed a webinar of more than 125 ag exporters, members of the Agriculture Transportation Coalition, which advocates on transportation policy as it impacts U.S. farmers.

Peter Friedmann, executive director of AgTC stated, “For our members, the cost-effective movement of goods is a key factor in the profitability of farm and processor operations; working with the leadership of the nation’s international gateways, such as Port of Savannah, serves mutual interests of the port and ag exporters in growing cargo volumes. We look forward to expanding these relationships, and appreciate Mr. Lynch’s most effective dialogue with our members this week.”

Georgia’s deepwater ports and inland barge terminals support more than 439,000 jobs throughout the state annually and contribute $25 billion in income, $106 billion in revenue and $2.9 billion in state and local taxes to Georgia’s economy. The Port of Savannah handled 8.5 percent of U.S. containerized cargo volume and 10 percent of all U.S. containerized exports in 2017.

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