President Barack Obama signed the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014 into law on Tuesday, which will improve the reliability and efficiency of the U.S. inland waterways system. National Corn Growers Association President Martin Barbre says this legislation provides an important step toward the infrastructure improvements vital to the nation’s inland waterway system – as current locks and dams were built in the 1920s and 30’s. For farmers in particular – Barbre says this is crucial – as more than 60-percent of the nation’s grain exports are transported by barge. The American Farm Bureau Federation and its 6-million member families have long championed an efficient and reliable inland waterway system linked to competitive ports – according to AFBF President Bob Stallman – and the implementation of this law will result in 6-billion dollars in total savings and important reforms to ensure the strength of the U.S. inland waterways and ports.
The law includes improvements to the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund and Inland Waterways Trust Fund – and establishes minimum authorization levels for the HMTF – requiring 100-percent of funds be spent on port infrastructure improvements by 2025. The IWTF federalizes 85-percent of the costs associated with the Olmsted Locks and Dam project – freeing more than 100-million dollars each year to be utilized for other priority projects on the waterways system. The law also includes provisions related to the Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasures Rule by allowing self-certification by a farmer of more on-farm fuel storage – up to 6,000 gallons. Indiana Farm Bureau and its 76,000 farmer members and their families would like to thank Reps. Larry Bucshon and Andre Carson of Indiana for their help in passing H.R. 3080, the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014 (WRRDA). The bill passed the U.S. House 412-4 and the Senate 91-7.
As members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Bucshon and Carson both worked on the bill’s passage, which was a strategic action item for Farm Bureau. U.S. waterways transport 60 percent of the nation’s export-bound grain, supply American farmers with fertilizer for planting season and provide a competitive advantage against producers of farm goods outside the nation’s borders.
WRRDA will help modernize the lock and dam infrastructure on the inland waterways system while making necessary investments in America’s ports. It is well known among farmers and the agriculture community that having an efficient and reliable inland waterway system linked to competitive ports is vital to America’s ability to provide affordable agricultural products domestically and internationally in an increasingly competitive world.
Farm Bureau commends Reps. Bucshon and Carson for their work and commitment to this important effort, a bill that will put America’s inland waterways and port infrastructure on a solid and sustainable foundation to contribute to economic growth, jobs and global competitiveness for Hoosiers and the entire nation for generations to come.