In The News

Transportation and Infrastructure

Mar 29, 2022

EP. 31 - Smooth Sailing on River Transportation Infrastructure, with Jim Tarmann and Tracy Zea

Key Issues: Farm PolicyTransportation and Infrastructure

Author: Dusty Weis

Jon celebrates a big win in Congress with the leaders of the Illinois Corn Growers and the Waterways Council.   The Mississippi River transports 60% of American corn and soybean exports to market. The massive barges that ply America’s waterways are more cost-effective than any other form of transportation, and also play a role in getting vital inputs to growers.   And yet, much of the infrastructure that makes this possible hasn’t been updated since the 1930s… until now.   In this episode, we talk about a key win for the NCGA and other groups who have spent decades pushing Congress to act on this critical infrastructure problem.   Joining us are Jim Tarmann, the managing director with Illinois Corn Growers, and Tracy Zea, the president and CEO of the Waterways Council, which is an association dedicated to advocating for a modern national system of inland waterway infrastructure.   We discuss how we got to this point, what it means for growers in the Midwest, and what...

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Mar 15, 2022

Illinois’ Tarmann Recognized for Advocacy to Update Vital Locks and Dams on Upper Mississippi River System

Key Issues: Transportation and Infrastructure

Author: Bryan Goodman

The National Corn Growers Association recently recognized Illinois Corn’s Managing Director Jim Tarmann for his work to secure vital funding for locks and dams along the Upper Mississippi River System.   The recognition came at the end of Commodity Classic in New Orleans.   “Jim spent years educating public policymakers about the importance of the locks and dams along the Upper Mississippi River System,” said Iowa farmer and NCGA President Chris Edgington. “Thanks to his efforts, billions of dollars are going to update this system that is so vital to farmers.”   More than 60% of the nation’s corn and soybean exports are transported on the Mississippi River. Yet, many of the locks and dams along the river system have not been updated since the 1930s, leading to breakdowns that have delayed shipments along the river. Knowing that breakdowns along the system would lead to costly delays for farmers, Tarmann began decades ago advocating for updates to the system’s locks and...

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Jan 25, 2022

With Reauthorization of the Farm Bill on the Horizon, Grower Leaders are Positioned to be Valuable Resource

Key Issues: Farm PolicyTransportation and Infrastructure

Author: Bryan Goodman

As Washington prepares to debate the reauthorization of the farm bill in 2023, one group of grower leaders is well-positioned as a valuable resource for corn growers and policymakers.    The Risk Management and Transportation Action Team (RMTAT) – which oversees much of NCGA’s public-policy work on transportation, the farm safety net and federal taxes – will play an active role in preparing NCGA for the 2023 farm bill.   “NCGA will soon roll out key findings from our nationwide risk management survey of fellow corn growers,” said RMTAT Chairman Bill Leigh.” We are also spending time evaluating current farm bill commodity and crop insurance programs, continuing to support strong risk management tools, and looking for areas of improvement. And implementation of disaster assistance will once again be on the team’s agenda for the year.”   The team is building off a successful year, which saw historic federal investments in domestic infrastructure. Implementation of the bipartisan...

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Jan 19, 2022

Historic Investment to Repair Nation’s River Infrastructure

Key Issues: Transportation and Infrastructure

Author: Bryan Goodman

Appropriations from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which passed in 2021 with bipartisan support, will soon be funding upgrades to infrastructure projects important to corn growers.   The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced today it would allocate $2.2 billion from the infrastructure legislation to repair and update the following locks along the Upper Mississippi River System:   Kentucky Lock along the Tennessee River, near Grand Rivers, Kentucky. Montgomery Lock on the Ohio River, 30 miles south of Pittsburgh. Lock and Dam 25 on the Upper Mississippi River, north of St. Louis. Three Rivers Lock along the Ohio River, southwest of Pittsburgh. T.J. O’Brien Lock and Dam along the Illinois River. “Corn growers depend on America’s rivers to import supplies, like fertilizers, which play an important part in planting and harvesting our crops,” said Iowa farmer and NCGA President Chris Edgington. “These rivers are also important in shipping our products to key...

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Nov 6, 2021

NCGA Praises Passage of Bipartisan Infrastructure Legislation Important to Farmers, Rural Communities

Key Issues: Transportation and Infrastructure

Author: Bryan Goodman

The House of Representatives voted 228 to 206 Friday night to approve the bipartisan infrastructure package, which the Senate passed in August by a vote of 69 to 30, clearing the way for legislation to become law.   The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act includes funding important to corn growers, including $17.3 billion for the nation’s ports and inland waterways and $2 billion specifically for rural broadband access. New spending in the bill is paid for through unused Covid relief funds, bonds and extensions of various government fees, and the bill does not include tax increases for individuals or farms.   “We are pleased to see the House act on this legislation which was developed in a bipartisan manner and allocates funding for initiatives that are extremely important to corn growers and rural America,” said NCGA President Chris Edgington. “This is a once in a generation infrastructure investment that will help farmers for years to come.”    As 60% of corn exports...

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Oct 22, 2021

NCGA, Other Ag Groups, Comment on Disruptive Factors Facing U.S. Supply Chain

Key Issues: Transportation and Infrastructure

Author: Bryan Goodman

The National Corn Growers Association joined 51 other agricultural groups in submitting comments this week to the U.S. Department of Transportation addressing the many disruptive factors facing the U.S. supply chain. The comments provide recommendations on how to alleviate these challenges through legislative and regulatory actions.    “To be successful, farmers must have a reliable and fully functioning national transportation system that will allow us to receive our fall fertilizer shipments and deliver our products to consumers in a timely fashion,” said NCGA President Chris Edgington. “That’s why NCGA, along with other groups, are making our voices heard in these discussions.”    The comments address several key areas of concern to corn growers, including:   Inland Waterways. The inland waterways system is vital to the American supply chain and gives U.S. producers a significant advantage in terms of cost and efficiency over international competitors. The comments urge...

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Aug 10, 2021

NCGA: Passage of Senate Infrastructure Bill a Positive Development that Would Benefit Farmers

Key Issues: Transportation and Infrastructure

Author: Bryan Goodman

The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) applauds the U.S. Senate for today’s passage of the bipartisan infrastructure package, which includes investments in important areas to corn growers.     “This is a once-in-a-lifetime investment in America’s infrastructure, and we are extremely pleased that it includes funding for priorities that are important to farmers and rural America,” said President of the National Corn Growers Association John Linder. “The legislation will benefit agriculture for years to come, and it is encouraging for corn farmers to see Senators working together on a bipartisan basis.”   Among the items included in the bill:   $17.3 billion for the nation’s ports and inland waterways. With 60% of corn exports utilizing these waterways, NCGA and coalition partners have a track record of advocating for these key resources.   $65 billion for broadband internet access, including $2 billion specifically for rural broadband, which will provide more farmers...

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Jul 30, 2021

NCGA: Passage of Bill to Fund Improvements on the Upper Mississippi River System Will Help Farmers

Key Issues: Transportation and Infrastructure

Author: Bryan Goodman

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill this week that would allocate millions of dollars in funding to improve the navigability of the Upper Mississippi River System, a vital national artery for the shipment of corn and other crops.   “Corn growers depend on the Mississippi River to deliver corn to key markets. When barges are delayed because of problems on the river, farmers are economically affected,” said Brooke Appleton, Vice President of Public Policy for the National Corn Growers Association. “That’s why we have worked closely with members of Congress to get funding for this project passed.” The House bill, which includes appropriations funding on other issues, provides $8.66 billion to the Army Corps of Engineers Civil Works Mission. From those funds, $22.5 million will go toward construction funding for the Navigation and Ecosystem Sustainability Program (NESP). NESP funding will be used to construct new locks on the river and help address efficiency issues with...

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May 14, 2021

Focus on Infrastructure: Rural Broadband

Key Issues: Transportation and Infrastructure

Author: Liz Friedlander

The American Jobs Plan, the Biden Administration’s $2 trillion infrastructure proposal, includes several provisions directly impacting corn growers. Rural Americans rely on reliable and safe infrastructure to compete in the global marketplace and access to a fast, reliable broadband connection is critical for all Americans.   Technology is a part of nearly every aspect of the farming operation, allowing farmers to be more efficient and sustainable on their operations. But, 14 million Americans living in rural communities lack access to reliable internet.   The Biden plan proposes $100 billion to expand high-speed internet to enable 100 percent access across the entire country. This proposal will prioritize support for broadband networks owned, operated by, or affiliated with local governments, non-profits, and cooperatives. This will also reduce the cost of broadband internet service and promote more widespread adoption.   The broadband industry supports jobs in rural America...

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May 13, 2021

Focus on Infrastructure: Inland Waterways and Ports

Key Issues: Transportation and Infrastructure

Author: Liz Friedlander

The American Jobs Plan, the Biden Administration’s $2 trillion infrastructure proposal, includes several provisions directly impacting corn growers.   Sixty million rural Americans live and work in rural communities. They rely on reliable and safe infrastructure to effectively move their products and compete globally and roads, bridges, highways and waterways provide the first and last links in the supply chain. America’s inland waterways system provides the most fuel-efficient, lowest cost, and environmentally friendly method of transporting products.   Included in the Biden Administration plan is a proposed $17 billion for inland waterways, coastal ports, land ports of entry, and ferries. The inland waterways system is essential to getting U.S. corn to export, with more than 60 percent of the grain produced in the United States being transported by barge, but work needs to be done to bring the nearly 12,000 miles of commercially navigable channels and 240 lock sites up to...

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May 10, 2021

Focus on Infrastructure: Roads and Bridges

Key Issues: Transportation and Infrastructure

Author: Liz Friedlander

The American Jobs Plan, the Biden Administration’s $2 trillion infrastructure proposal, includes several provisions directly impacting corn growers. Rural Americans rely on reliable and safe infrastructure to effectively move their products and compete globally and roads, bridges, highways and waterways provide the first and last links in the supply chain.   The proposal’s $115 billion to modernize 20,000 miles of highways as well as roads and bridges would target the most economically significant large bridges and repair the worst 10,000 smaller bridges.   If approved by Congress, this funding would meet the needs of our crumbling infrastructure. The nation’s rural roads and bridges have significant deficiencies due to underfunding. 15 percent of the nation’s major rural roads have pavements rated in poor condition, 21% in mediocre condition, and 10 percent rated structurally deficient.   Congress will ultimately decide, and vote on, the provisions included in any...

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Apr 13, 2021

Focus on Infrastructure: Rural Broadband

Key Issues: Farm PolicyTransportation and Infrastructure

Author: Julie Busse

The American Jobs Plan, the Biden Administration’s $2 trillion infrastructure proposal, includes several provisions directly impacting corn growers. Rural Americans rely on reliable and safe infrastructure to compete in the global marketplace, and access to a fast, reliable broadband connection is critical for all Americans.   Technology is a part of nearly every aspect of the farming operation, allowing farmers to be more efficient and sustainable on their operations. But, 14 million Americans living in rural communities lack access to reliable internet.   The Biden plan proposes $100 billion to expand high-speed internet to enable 100 percent access across the entire country. This proposal will prioritize support for broadband networks owned, operated by, or affiliated with local governments, non-profits, and cooperatives. This will also reduce the cost of broadband internet service and promote more widespread adoption.   The broadband industry supports jobs in rural...

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Mar 31, 2021

President Biden Outlines Infrastructure Proposal

Key Issues: Transportation and Infrastructure

Author: Liz Friedlander

President Biden today unveiled his American Jobs Plan, a $2 trillion infrastructure proposal investing in a wide range of infrastructure areas. The White House describes the American Jobs Plan as “an investment in America that will create millions of good jobs, rebuild our country’s infrastructure, and position the United States to out-compete China.”   The proposal includes: $115 billion to repair roads and bridges $100 billion to expand high-speed broadband across the country $100 billion to upgrade and build new schools Investment in climate and clean energy infrastructure   Congress will ultimately decide and vote on, the provisions included in any infrastructure legislation. Discussions on Capitol Hill regarding an infrastructure package are currently taking place and NCGA is sharing corn farmer priorities with members of the House and Senate.   The proposal’s $115 billion to modernize 20,000 miles of highways as well as roads and bridges would target the most...

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Feb 9, 2021

Navigating the Needs of the Nation’s Inland Waterways System

Key Issues: Transportation and Infrastructure

Author: Julie Busse

This past summer and through the fall, many of the locks on the Illinois River underwent major rehabilitation projects upgrading the aging infrastructure. Still, more work is necessary to bring the nearly 12,000 miles of commercially navigable channels and 240 lock sites up-to-date.   Members of the Market Development Action Team (MDAT) and Risk Management and Transportation Action Team (RMTAT) had the opportunity to tour the construction sites last fall. The project on the Illinois River had a price tag totaling roughly $200 million. The locks and dams at LaGrange, Peoria, Starved Rock, Marseilles, and Dresden Island were the locations that underwent various construction projects.   Tracy Zea, President & CEO of the Waterways Council, Inc., joined NCGA to tour the construction of the locks and dams on the Illinois River. “We currently have 69 locks that are over 80 years old, and each lock is designed to last 50 years,” said Zea. “The upgrades are necessary because it allows...

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Jan 6, 2021

Risk Management and Transportation Action Team Focusing in 2021 on Infrastructure Improvements and Strong Risk Management Tools

Key Issues: Transportation and Infrastructure

Author: Liz Friedlander

NCGA’s Risk Management and Transportation Action Team (RMTAT) oversees much of NCGA’s public policy work on issues including the farm bill’s commodity, crop insurance and disaster programs; commodity markets; and transportation and infrastructure.   RMTAT plays a key role in the development of NCGA policy and is looking to have an impactful 2021 and beyond. The team has a full plate of issues to consider for the coming year. U.S. infrastructure improvements, including waterways and rail systems, to keep a competitive edge for American agriculture, along with implementation of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), will be a focus for the team.   RMTAT will also look ahead to the next farm bill reauthorization, evaluating current farm bill programs, looking for areas of improvement to existing programs, and continuing to support strong risk management tools essential to corn growers. Federal responses to weather-related disasters and the COVID-19 pandemic will also be on...

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Nov 20, 2020

Illinois Waterway System Reopens to Traffic

Key Issues: Transportation and Infrastructure

Author: Julie Busse

A major rehabilitation project on the Illinois River has been completed, allowing for the 12 million tons of food and ag commodities that leave the state to resume. This past summer, the Illinois River was shut down to go through necessary infrastructure upgrades with all of the newly completed work accompanied by a price tag totaling roughly $200 million.   This Week in Agribusiness recently featured the ongoing work from the Illinois Lock and Dam Project. Back in September, corn growers and NCGA staff toured four active construction sites along the Rock Island District including LaGrange, Peoria, Starved Rock, and Marseilles. The inland waterways system is essential to getting U.S. corn to the export market, with more than 60 percent of the grain produced in the U.S. being transported by barge.     Illinois corn grower Terry Smith told This Week in Agribusiness that waterways transportation isn’t just more efficient, it also makes the roads safer. “If you know some of the...

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Oct 14, 2020

Inland Waterways Vital to America’s Corn Farmers

Key Issues: Transportation and Infrastructure

Author: Julie Busse

The inland waterways system is essential to getting U.S. corn to export, with more than 60 percent of the grain produced in the U.S. being transported by barge. For the past few months, the Illinois River has been shut down to go through necessary upgrades, with a price tag totaling roughly $200 million.   “The waterway system is critical to all of agriculture,” said Bill Leigh, Illinois farmer and Vice Chair of the Risk Management and Transportation Action Team. “The work that’s gone into making the waterways viable transportation hubs to reliably move agricultural goods is what has made our grain so competitive around the world.”   The locks and dams on the Illinois River at LaGrange, Peoria, Starved Rock, Marseilles, and Dresden Island have been closed for various construction projects, with a target completion date of all the projects by the end of October. For more information on the locks and dams undergoing construction on the Illinois River, click here.   Tracy Zea,...

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Sep 17, 2019

Corn Growers Learn about Mississippi River Initiatives

Key Issues: Transportation and Infrastructure

Author: Mary Quigley

  National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) staff, state staff and grower leaders had the opportunity to participate in a river collaboration trip, in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Mississippi River St. Louis district, to see firsthand the infrastructure and inner workings of the inland waterway system.   On the first day, the group boarded the barge at Lock and Dam 22, located near Saverton, Missouri, roughly 10 miles southeast of Hannibal. This lock and dam have been in operation since 1938. In 2017, more than 21-million tons of food and farm products went through this lock and dam.   “Agriculture relies so heavily on the inland waterways system to move our product each year to export markets,” said Market Access Action Team (MAAT) Chair and Colorado farmer Michael Lefever. “With more than 60 percent of grain exports in the U.S. being moved by barge, having up-to-date infrastructure is imperative. This trip helped us learn more about the needs and challenges of the river...

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Aug 14, 2019

#ICYMI: Waterways Council Launches Educational Video Series

Key Issues: Transportation and Infrastructure

Author: Mary Quigley

The Waterways Council, Inc. recently produced a series of videos, aimed at educating various audiences on inland waterways. The five videos focus on agriculture, labor, shippers, communities and the Army Corps of Engineers. In the agriculture video, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue kicks it off by saying “I don’t think anything is more important to agriculture than logistics and transportation. That’s ultimately how we get that product to the ultimate end customer and our waterways have been absolutely critical in that effort.”   To watch the agriculture video, click here. To learn more about and watch the other four videos, click here. In September, NCGA staff will be participating in a Mississippi Riverboat trip with the Army Corps of Engineers from Hannibal to St. Louis, to learn more about river transportation, lock and dam infrastructure and various projects the Corps is working on.   Fast Facts on River Transportation:   Corn, soybeans and wheat account...

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Apr 10, 2019

NCGA Testifies on Importance of Inland Waterways

Key Issues: Transportation and Infrastructure

Author: Mary Quigley

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

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