(Posted Thu. May 19th, 2016)
The National Corn Growers Association joins with others across the country this Infrastructure Week to highlight the critical role our Nation’s inland waterway system plays in agriculture and the incredible importance of maintaining the operational capacity of this system.
With more than 60 percent of the nation’s grain exports being transported by barge, the U.S. inland waterway system is vital for U.S. farmers. Farmers depend on the inland waterway system to deliver their crops to the global marketplace and to businesses which rely on the system to move their raw materials and products. As the waterway system ages and infrastructure-related delays increase, farmers will find it increasingly difficult to meet demand in the timely fashion needed to grow markets.
60 percent of the 12,000 miles of waterways across 38 states serving the heartland of America via the Mississippi River and its major tributaries have outlived their 50-year economic design period. Most of America’s locks and dams were built in the 1920s and 1930s, yet are used to transport 21st century cargoes that fuel our modern economy.
The good news is that infrastructure investment for our aging locks and dams offers a great return: Every $1 invested in our inland waterway system returns $10 to our Nation’s economy. And proper investment means sustaining 541,000 jobs and more than $1 billion in new job income annually.
The waterways are the safest, most environmentally sound transportation mode for bulk cargoes. Waterways have the best fuel efficiency record, relieve highway traffic congestion, and have the most capacity for freight that can facilitate increased productivity.