Despite a looming veto threat, the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly passed the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) conference report Monday evening by a vote of 81-12, making a WRDA victory within grasp.
National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) President Ken McCauley says “It’s unfortunate the administration is threatening veto. Our infrastructure cannot keep pace with demands and is falling apart. We must upgrade the lock system on the Upper Mississippi and Illinois rivers to compete in the global market place. Our hope is the president will take seriously his responsibility to ensure our nation has a safe and viable infrastructure by signing WRDA into law. Ignoring that responsibility is a dangerous gamble.”
NCGA says a presidential veto will only delay passage of the bill as there is strong congressional support for WRDA and a veto override is likely.
Corn growers nationwide have been long-time advocates for improvements to our inland system. WRDA provides authorization for seven 1,200 foot locks on the Upper Mississippi and Illinois rivers. WRDA is crucial to farmers who depend on the inland waterway system to deliver their crops to the global marketplace and to businesses who rely on the system to move their raw materials and products.
According to Missouri Corn Growers Association president Mike Geske, “The Mississippi River transportation system is key to both exports and imports. We need access to grain and livestock markets around the world, but our cities and towns also need the ability to import basic commodities like steel, building materials and petroleum products.”
It is estimated that 60 percent of U.S. grain exports are transported via the Mississippi River. The construction of seven new locks will help speed barge traffic, allowing farmers and businesses greater access to global markets.
“Countries around the world are upgrading their transportation systems to compete in the international marketplace,” summarizes Geske. “Without these upgrades, the U.S. will not be able to maintain a competitive edge with markets across the globe.”