(Posted Mon. Feb 12th, 2018)
The National Corn Growers Association thanked President Trump following the announcement detailing his plan to rebuild America’s infrastructure and making it a national priority today. Noting the particular importance of improving rural infrastructure, and pledging $50 billion dollars to do so, this announcement clearly shows the value the Administration places on rural communities, and NCGA looks forward to working with them in their efforts to achieve this important goal.
While NCGA is pleased in the investment in rural infrastructure, plans outlined to address water transportation systems cause some concern in their current state.
Water transportation systems like the Upper Mississippi River corridor are critical corridors of commerce for many industries including agriculture and the nation’s farmers. We are currently depending on a dilapidated system of locks and dams that is more than half a century old, and on borrowed time.
Nearly three-quarters of U.S. grain exports are transported to port via the U.S. river system, but most of the nation’s locks and dams have outlived their intended 50-year lifespans. Breakdowns in the river infrastructure add to transport costs, some of which are passed on to farmers. Meanwhile, rural areas rely disproportionately on federal funding for infrastructure projects, underscoring the need for robust federal investment.
Rural communities continue to see infrastructure deteriorate, jeopardizing jobs, our agriculture competitiveness, and the long-term future of family farmers.
When farmers and business owners have to find alternative routes, it creates delays in getting products to market and increases the cost of production and export. These delays have real world results with estimates stating that America’s transportation deficiencies will cost U.S. agriculture $1.3 billion in exports by 2020.