USDA releases inland waterways report
The Agriculture Department’s Agricultural Marketing Service in August released a report prepared by a consulting firm that interest groups said showed the importance of the inland waterways to American agriculture.
The study was unveiled on Aug. 28 at a town hall meeting conducted at Mel Price Locks and Dam near St. Louis by Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, accompanied by Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works) R.D. James.
The study was produced for USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service by Informa Economics.
The National Grain and Feed Association and Waterways Council Inc., which lobby Congress for funding for the waterways, said the study “quantifies the cost-savings and competitive advantages that would accrue from investing in long-delayed improvements to inland waterways locks and dams on the Upper Mississippi and Illinois River system.”
“USDA’s study underscores the inland waterways as a conduit to our nation’s agriculture competitiveness, as well as to overall U.S. economic prosperity. We believe the study makes the case to expedite the Navigation and Ecosystem Sustainability Program that would modernize five locks on the Upper Mississippi River and two on the Illinois Waterway to be ready to capitalize on predicted grain shipments, while at the same time improving the health of our marine ecosystems and habitats,” said WCI President and CEO Mike Toohey. “NESP is awaiting Pre-Construction Engineering and Design (PED) funds to be ‘shovel-ready’ for these vital locks,” he continued.
“The United States simply can’t afford to lag behind any longer,” NGFA President Randy Gordon said. “This study is a wake-up call to the White House Office of Management and Budget and Congress to make the PED funding for NESP available this year, and to ensure growing investments are continued and expedited in the tremendous natural resource that America’s inland waterways represent.”
The groups added that “the study, entitled ‘Importance of Inland Waterways to U.S. Agriculture,’ addresses the critical connection between the inland waterways and the competitiveness of American agriculture in global markets. U.S. farmers and agribusinesses, as well as the overall U.S. economy and balance of trade, depend upon and benefit from the inland waterways and its infrastructure, which provide the safest, lowest-cost and most environmentally sustainable and fuel-efficient way to move grain and other agricultural products.”
See the full report at https://www.ams.usda.gov/sites/default/files/media/ImportanceofInlandWaterways toUSAgricultureFullReport.pdf. ❖