Ag groups urge passage of waterway infrastructure bill

By Agri-Pulse staff

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

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WASHINGTON, May 7, 2013 - Over twenty national agricultural associations today urged the Senate to promptly approve legislation (S. 601) that would reauthorize the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA).

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The Senate is scheduled to begin floor consideration on the legislation today, with a vote possible by later this week or early during the week of May 13. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee unanimously approved a WRDA bill on March 20.

“America's inland waterways and ports long have provided U.S. farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses with a strong comparative advantage, enhancing our ability to efficiently and competitively serve domestic and global markets, as well as to secure essential crop inputs for production of grains, oilseeds and other agricultural commodities,” the agricultural organizations wrote in a National Grain and Feed Association-generated letter distributed to all senators on May 6.

But the organizations noted that the inland waterways system now risks becoming a “potential detriment” rather than a comparative strength for U.S. agriculture and other sectors of the American economy.  The groups noted that a “staggering” 57 percent of the locks on the Upper Mississippi and Illinois River System were built in the 1930s with a projected 50-year lifespan.  Of those, 26 percent are more than 70 years old.  A 2013 infrastructure “report card” issued by the American Society of Civil Engineers gave the U.S. inland waterways a D- grade.  

Signatories included the National Grain and Feed Association; the Agricultural Retailers Association; American Farm Bureau Federation; American Feed Industry Association; American Soybean Association; Corn Refiners Association; National Association of Wheat Growers; National Barley Growers Association; National Chicken Council; National Corn Growers Association; National Cotton Council; National Council of Farmer Cooperatives; National Farmers Union;  National Oilseed Processors Association; National Sunflower Association; National Turkey Federation; North American Export Grain Association; Pet Food Institute; The Fertilizer Institute; U.S. Canola Association; and U.S. Poultry & Egg Association.


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