President Trump’s initiative to highlight America’s crumbling infrastructure this week has reminded the agribusiness sector on the importance of water for farmers. Not the water to grow the produce, but the water used to move crops to the world’s export market.
- S. farmers and agribusiness sector depend heavily on an aging river system to move grains and produce to the global export market. The nation’s river ways have not seen structural changes or updates to their lock and dam systems in over 50 years.
Agribusiness grain exports such as Cargill, Inc. and Archer Daniel Midland have experienced frequent breakdowns and idled boat crews which add to the transportations cost, reports the Wall Street Journal.
The Trump Administration is proposing to help finance $1 trillion in infrastructure projects for the nation’s airports, seaports, and bridges. American farmers are hoping some of this proposed spending will fix the 242 locks and dams along America’s rivers.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is the federal agency charged with maintaining American riverways. The agency released its proposed 2018 fiscal year budget which includes $2.098 billion for “the study, design, construction, operation, and maintenance of inland and coastal navigation projects. Small ports and riverways with the most active commercial traffic are a priority in the proposed budget.
The Waterways Council, Inc., which has been advocating for infrastructure spending on inland waterways, has estimated that $8.7 billion is needed immediately to begin to address the poorly maintained lock and dam system.
“Our majestic waterways deliver grain, construction material, and energy products,” states the WCI. “They power commerce, provide jobs, and are a farmer’s lifeline.”