WASHINGTON, April 5, 2017 — A total of 22 agricultural producer and agribusiness organizations that participate in the Agricultural Transportation Working Group today sent a letter to House and Senate appropriators asking for continued funding support in fiscal year 2018 to rebuild the nation’s declining inland waterways infrastructure.
“While the U.S. transportation infrastructure system long has provided U.S. agricultural producers and agribusinesses with a strong comparative advantage against foreign competitors, our waterways infrastructure system is falling behind,” stated the letter, signed by groups representing producers, grain handlers, millers, processors and exporters, feed manufacturers and agribusinesses. “Most locks and dams on the U.S. inland waterways system have surpassed their design life span of 50 years. Further, navigation channels at U.S. ports need to be deepened to accommodate larger vessels transiting through recently reopened and expanded Panama Canal.”
The groups listed specific action items they’d like to see from appropriators regarding U.S. waterways, including requests to:
- Appropriate the full amount supportable by the barge diesel fuel tax going into the Inland Waterways Trust Fund.
- Support, at a minimum, a funding level of $3.173 billion for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers operations & maintenance (O&M) budget, which helps support ongoing inland and coastal navigation activities.
- Ensure that spending targets for the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund codified in the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014 are met to cover O&M activities, such as harbor dredging, which would amount to approximately $1.33 billion.
“Our inland waterways and ports are true economic difference-makers that support American workers and help U.S. products reach the 95 percent of consumers who live outside our borders,” the letter concluded. “We appreciate your consideration of these appropriations requests, and thank you for your time and work on these critical infrastructure needs.”
Organizations signing the letters were:
Agricultural Retailers Association
Agriculture & Commodities Transportation Coalition
American Farm Bureau Federation
American Soybean Association
Corn Refiners Association
Institute of Shortening and Edible Oils
National Association of State Departments of Agriculture
National Association of Wheat Growers
National Barley Growers Association
National Council of Farmer Cooperatives
National Corn Growers Association
National Farmers Union
National Grain and Feed Association
National Oilseed Processors Association
National Pork Producers Association
National Sunflower Association
North American Millers’ Association
Soy Transportation Coalition
The Fertilizer Institute
U.S. Canola Association
U.S. Poultry & Egg Association
The NGFA, established in 1896, consists of more than 1,050 grain, feed, processing, exporting and other grain-related companies that operate more than 7,000 facilities and handle more than 70 percent of all U.S. grains and oilseeds. Its membership includes grain elevators; feed and feed ingredient manufacturers; biofuels companies; grain and oilseed processors and millers; exporters; livestock and poultry integrators; and associated firms that provide goods and services to the nation’s grain, feed and processing industry. The NGFA also consists of 29 affiliated State and Regional Grain and Feed Associations, and has strategic alliances with Pet Food Institute and North American Export Grain Association.