Water Resources Bill advances

For more information on Newsline, contact: Johnna Miller, Director of Media Development, American Farm Bureau Federation [email protected]

Miller Farmers and ranchers – along with most of the rest of the population – are hard-pressed to find much to be thankful to Congress for this year. But American Farm Bureau transportation specialist Andrew Walmsley says there is one reason: both the House and the Senate managed to pass water resources legislation, which would update outdated locks and dams and port facilities.
Walmsley They understand the importance of having this waterways infrastructure and how it fits into a national network of moving goods across the country, goods everyone needs. A lot of things move through our waterways and a lot more things move through our ports. So I think a lot of folks recognize it’s time to update these types of critical infrastructure.
Miller Forty-one states utilize inland waterways infrastructure. Add the impact of the ports and you’ve got the whole nation benefiting greatly from the legislation.
Walmsley You’re talking about jobs. You’re talking about utilizing one of the most efficient and cost effective modes of transportation. When you look at one 16-tow barge, it’s equivalent to 215 railroad cars or a little over 1,000 semi-trucks. It makes us very competitive. For our farmers, say, in Iowa competing with farmers in Brazil, we beat them by seven to eight percent cheaper because of our infrastructure, not having to truck it. We have our inland waterway system.
MIller Now a conference committee is working to iron out the differences in the two bills. The biggest problem facing passage is the calendar.
Walmsley We have our Thanksgiving break. The Senate’s out for two weeks before they return. The House doesn’t come back until December 2 and the House adjourns on December 13. So we have a very short timetable to get a conference report put together and passed by both houses of Congress and sent on to the President. I think that’s the biggest challenge. It’s huge just to show Congress can still function. We’ve been through a lot this year. You’ve had the government shutdown but hopefully we can have this one bright piece of legislation to actually pass.
Miller And if it does, the whole nation can be thankful. Johnna Miller, Washington.

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