NCGA Testifies on Importance of Inland Waterways

(Posted Wed. Apr 10th, 2019)

Keywords: Transportation Public Policy

NCGA First Vice President Kevin Ross testified before the U.S. House Transportation Committee’s Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment today at a hearing titled, “The Cost of Doing Nothing: Why Full Utilization of the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund and Investment in our Nation’s Waterways Matter.”   The hearing was an opportunity for NCGA to share the importance of the inland waterway system to farmers and serve as a resource for future discussions regarding water transport.   “America’s corn farmers need reliable means of moving our crops to customers, whether it’s to livestock feed yards, grain elevators, the ethanol plant, or ports for export. Farmers use many modes of transportation, with the inland waterway system being a vital artery of transportation for our products, especially for farmers in the Midwest,” Ross told the Subcommittee.   Read Ross’s Testimony   Video Highlights

(Posted Mon. Feb 12th, 2018)

Keywords: Transportation

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...

(Posted Wed. Oct 26th, 2016)

Keywords: Transportation

New research by the University of Tennessee quantifies what many in agriculture have known for years; failure of our aging river locks and dams along the Mississippi River and its tributaries would be ruinous with billions of dollars in lost jobs and reduced economic activity.   Recently, USDA released estimates of the economic implications to the agriculture sector should a disruption occur at either Lock & Dam 25 on the Upper Mississippi or La Grange Lock & Dam on the Illinois River waterway. The locations were selected because they are representative of the lock system as a whole but also because they occupy key locations on the river system.   “These are both 600 foot locks even though modern tows are 1,200 feet-long. They are also at the lower reaches of the waterways,” said Ken Hartman, chair of the National Corn Growers Association’s Market Access Action Team. “The southbound traffic here already contributes to long delays because of the lock size. But a disruption of...

(Posted Tue. Oct 11th, 2016)

Keywords: infrastructure transportation

Solid infrastructure is the backbone of American agriculture and especially critical to the continued growth in exports of feed grains.  That’s why the National Corn Growers Association, along with the U.S. Grains Council, signed on as a sponsor of a special seven-part Agri-Pulse editorial series that is taking a close-up look at America’s infrastructure and the improvements that are needed to help farmers and ranchers remain competitive at home and abroad.  The series, “Keeping Rural America Competitive,” was launched following the recent Rural Infrastructure Summit in Ames, Iowa, in an effort to continue the important conversations prompted by the Summit.  That event featured a diverse collection of agriculture companies and organizations as well as distinguished speakers emphasizing the importance of finding new ways to address global population growth, exports and market access while building stronger rural communities.  It also included two moderated panels featuring a...

(Posted Thu. Sep 29th, 2016)

Keywords: Transportation

The U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 5303, the Water Resources and Development Act of 2016 (WRDA 2016), late Wednesday, by a vote of 399-25. The National Corn Growers Association thanks the House for making the bill a priority during the short September legislative session.   “Farmers and ranchers need to be able to get their products to market quickly and safely, and inland waterways are a critical part of that process for much of the country. The Water Resources Development Act helps maintain and modernize our inland waterways infrastructure and plays a vital role in moving corn to export markets,” said NCGA First Vice President Wesley Spurlock, a farmer from Stratford, Texas.   A main focus of the WRDA 2016 bill is clearing the backlog of projects at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. It also provides more than $10 billion in funding to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to develop, maintain and support the nation’s port and waterways infrastructures.   “We would...

(Posted Fri. Sep 16th, 2016)

Keywords: Transportation

The National Corn Growers Association praised the U.S. Senate for passing S. 2848, the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA 2016), and encouraged the House of Representatives leadership to make the bill a priority for the September legislative session.   “Inland waterways are a central part of our country’s transportation infrastructure, helping farmers and ranchers to get their products to market quickly and safely. The Water Resources Development Act is an important step forward in our efforts to maintain and modernize our inland waterways infrastructure,” said NCGA Production and Stewardship Action Team Chair Brent Hostetler, a farmer from Plain City, Ohio.   This bill provides only minor policy tweaks and is focused on clearing the backlog of projects at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.   Additionally, S. 2848 will provide relief from the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) regulations by exempting farms with up to...

(Posted Thu. May 26th, 2016)

Keywords: Transportation

The National Corn Growers Association expressed disappointment that the House of Representatives failed to pass the FY17 Energy and Water Appropriations bill today and urged members to work collaboratively to find a way to pass this important legislation as quickly as possible.   “NCGA, along with 19 other ag groups, sent a letter to the House Appropriations Committee earlier this spring supporting the revitalization of our deteriorating inland waterways infrastructure, and our association remains resolute in its support of this key legislation,” said NCGA Production and Stewardship Action Team Chair Brent Hostetler. “The House bill is important for our farmers who depend on the inland waterways system to export grain and to receive farm inputs like fertilizer for crop production. America’s farmers sustainably produce food, feed and fuel for our nation, growing our economy with their growing crop. It is imperative that House members now do their part by finding a way to come...

(Posted Thu. Jul 30th, 2015)

Keywords: Policy Transportation

The National Corn Growers Association today expressed disappointment that Congress failed to pass a long-term highway funding bill before its August recess. Congress voted to extend the United States Highway Trust Fund’s authorization through Oct. 29, the second such short-term extension this year. “Once again, Congress kicked the can down the road – and that road is in bad shape,” said NCGA President Chip Bowling, a farmer from Newburg, Maryland. “Farmers rely on our nation’s infrastructure system every day. We need safe, reliable roads and bridges to get our products to market quickly, safely and efficiently. Instead, our roads and bridges are at best, in disrepair, and at worst, unsafe or unusable – and that hurts every farmer in America.” Eighty percent of the domestic corn crop is trucked to market, according to USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service. By one estimate, America’s transportation deficiencies will cost U.S. agriculture $1.3 billion in exports by 2020....

(Posted Wed. May 20th, 2015)

Keywords: Transportation

After the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill late Tuesday to extend the United States Highway Trust Fund’s authorization only through July 31, National Corn Growers Association President Chip Bowling issued the following statement:   “We are disappointed in Congress’ repeated failure to pass a long-term highway funding bill. There isn’t a county in this country that does not have a road or bridge in need of work. Farmers need all available modes of transportation to safely and efficiently get our products to market and be globally competitive. It’s time to move past short-term stopgaps and toward a long-term strategy to invest in our national infrastructure.”   The Highway Trust Fund, established in 1956, is a federal transportation fund that pays for the construction and maintenance of highways, roads, and bridges. In the past eight years, there have been 32 extensions and five revenue shortfalls to transportation funding. Last July, Congress passed a measure to...

(Posted Fri. Apr 24th, 2015)

Keywords: Transportation

As the new tax quarter began, the Waterways Council and its allies remind effected parties of the 9 cent per gallon barge diesel user fee increase that went into effect April 1. The fee increase and other changes were the result of a broadly supported effort, backed by the National Corn Growers Association, to improve the U.S. inland waterways infrastructure to handle forecasted increases in traffic.   “NCGA and other agriculture groups have advocated for this increase for many years,” said Garry Niemeyer, Illinois farmer and NCGA representative to the Waterways Council. “More than 60 percent of the nation’s grain exports are transported by barge. Shippers and barge operators both lobbied for changes to the system, due in large part to farmers bringing in record grain harvests.”   The fees go toward the Inland Waterways Trust Fund, which finances construction and major rehabilitation on the nation’s inland waterways. An estimated $260 million is expected to be generated over...

(Posted Mon. Nov 10th, 2014)

Keywords: Transportation

In a letter sent to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Friday, the National Corn Growers Association urged the Army Corps to delay its planned mat-laying work along the Mississippi River and reopen the river to traffic.   On Friday morning, the Corps’ Mississippi Valley Division closed the Mississippi River to daylight traffic for a three-mile stretch near Memphis. The closure is expected to last 14 days. According to the Corps, the resulting delays of barge traffic were running about 10 hours over the weekend.   “This comes at a terrible time for U.S. corn farmers,” said NCGA President Chip Bowling. “We produced a record crop in 2014, much of which will be transported along the Mississippi River. It is imperative that barge traffic not be impeded, and as much grain as possible is transported before winter.”   In the letter, NCGA notes that the closure is being done with little notice, and it will result in significant delays of grain shipments.   In response to concerns...

(Posted Fri. Sep 5th, 2014)

Keywords: Transportation

The National Corn Growers Association submitted comments to the Surface Transportation Board on the ongoing railroad service problems impacting corn growers. The comments, which detailed shipping delays and the industry-specific nuances of grain shipment, provided insight into the negative repercussions railroad delays have on family farmers.   “Based on the large railroad volumes of corn and corn products and relatively short peak seasonal shipping periods, timely and efficient railroad service is obviously extremely important for corn producers and shippers,” the association stated, summarizing the situation farmers face in regard to rail shipments. “NCGA members have been adversely impacted by recent railroad delays and service problems, particularly on BNSF and CP, and we are worried about the railroads abilities to provide timely and efficient service during the upcoming fall harvest and heavy shipping period.”   While the comments noted instances of recent improvements,...

(Posted Thu. Sep 19th, 2013)

Keywords: Transportation Waterways

Sept 19: Today, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee passed H.R. 3080, the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2013.  The National Corn Growers Association appreciates the bi-partisan effort put forth by members of the committee to clear this legislation of its first major hurdle in the House.    “A modern inland waterways system is critical to American agriculture and to the nation’s economy,” NCGA President Pam Johnson said.  “Every year more than a billion tons of domestic commerce, valued at more than $300 billion, travels through our lock and dam system.   In addition, more than one billion bushels of grain which equates to roughly 60 percent of all grain exports, move to markets via the inland waterways each year.  We can’t afford to allow such an integral part of our value chain continue to deteriorate.”    The bill, which passed by a voice vote, authorizes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to continue its work on developing, maintaining and...