A bill to improve the nation’s waterways could help grain farmers in the Midwest compete in the global marketplace. The Waterways Resource Reform and Development Act, or WRRDA, has been over a year in the making.
It authorizes spending $12 billion for improvements such as deepening ports. Grain farmers hope it will ultimately allow for larger ships to carry corn, soybeans, and wheat to foreign markets. Corning, Iowa farmer Ray Gaesser is president of the American Soybean Association. “The demand for soybeans, that protein and oil that we have from the soybeans, has just been growing so terrifically in the last 20 years and meeting that demand is important,” Gaesser say.
Exports are an increasingly important part of grain marketing, but according to Gaesser, many locks and dams are 80 years old and new modern ships are too big for the depth of some ports. “That infrastructure, that ability to effectively and efficiently move our products within the United States and throughout the world…it’s a big deal to agriculture,” Gaesser says.
Congress passed WRRDA earlier this month, but President Obama has yet to sign it. Congress must still decide exactly how and whether to appropriate the funding.