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August 19, 2013

Waterways Infrastructure Vital to America

For more information on Newsline, contact: Kari Barbic, Media Specialist, American Farm Bureau Federation, karib@fb.org.

It’s WRDA Week for the American Farm Bureau’s “Bring the Heat” campaign. U.S. locks, dams and ports are a big part of what make the country a powerhouse in agricultural trade. That trade adds a lot of jobs to the U.S. economy. AFBF transportation specialist Andrew Walmsley explains that’s just part of the reason Congress needs to pass the Water Resources Development Act. AFBF’s Johnna Miller has that story.
Miller:More than 60 percent of exported U.S. corn is shipped via inland waterways and more than $20 billion in farm exports move through U.S. harbors. So funding for flood protection, port improvements and upgrades to the nation’s aging locks and dams infrastructure are more critical than ever.
Walmsley:The Water Resources Development Act, or WRDA, is an important bill that funds transportation infrastructure along with a whole multitude of other issues dealing with water infrastructure in the country.
Miller:American Farm Bureau transportation specialist Andrew Walmsley says that while the Senate passed its version of the bill in May with strong bipartisan support, the wait is on for the House to pass its version. Farm Bureau – the nation’s largest agriculture organization – is encouraging farmers and ranchers to reach out to lawmakers while they’re home for the summer break.
Walmsley:We are encouraging farmers and ranchers out there to encourage their House members, to support a WRDA bill that is extremely important for the infrastructure, the flow of commerce in this country. We really need to get the House to move forward to pass one so we have the ability to move forward in making investments that are critical to keeping America competitive.
Miller:Walmsley says our competitive edge is at risk because some of the locks and dams were built back in the days of the Model T and the threat of failures looms large. That would have an impact on the entire country.
Walmsley:Waterways are efficient and environmentally friendly. One 16-barge tow is the equivalent of 216 railcars with six locomotives pulling those or a little over 1,000 trucks. So you’re taking a lot congestion not only off our railways but our roadways. You’re saving fuel. Our commutes are bad enough as it is. I don’t know that we want an extra 1,000 trucks on the road just because we can’t get a barge down the river.
Miller:Johnna Miller, Washington.
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