The inland waterways system is essential to getting U.S. corn to export, with more than 60 percent of the grain produced in the U.S. being transported by barge. For the past few months, the Illinois River has been shut down to go through necessary upgrades, with a price tag totaling roughly $200 million.
“The waterway system is critical to all of agriculture,” said Bill Leigh, Illinois farmer and Vice Chair of the Risk Management and Transportation Action Team. “The work that’s gone into making the waterways viable transportation hubs to reliably move agricultural goods is what has made our grain so competitive around the world.”
The locks and dams on the Illinois River at LaGrange, Peoria, Starved Rock, Marseilles, and Dresden Island have been closed for various construction projects, with a target completion date of all the projects by the end of October. For more information on the locks and dams undergoing construction on the Illinois River, click here.
Tracy Zea, President & CEO of the Waterways Council, Inc. joined NCGA staff and grower leaders of the Risk Management and Transportation and Market Development Action Teams to see the construction of the locks and dams on the Illinois River. “We currently have 69 locks that are over 80 years old, and each lock is designed to last 50 years,” said Zea. “The upgrades are necessary because it allows our farmers to compete in the foreign marketplace.”
You can watch a brief video with Zea, where he describes the importance of the waterways system here.