Over one hundred commodity organization leaders, farmers and local officials gathered at Guttenberg City Park for Friday’s live Agri-Talk radio program, and rallied to keep the government moving forward in regard to rebuilding Midwest river infrastructure.
“It’s not an easy thing and it’s not a cheap thing,” Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture said. “We had a generation that put a lot of dollars into building these facilities so billions of dollars worth of grains could come down the rivers and billions of dollars worth of other products could come back upstream. We thought we had Congress ready to invest in improvement and replacement in the Water Resources bills that have been passed, but the money still isn’t there.”
Mike Steenhoek with the Soy Transportation Coalition took a long-term view of building and maintaining river infrastructure.
“Well, investment is not a one time activity, it is a perpetual activity and great nations and great industries need to invest themselves if they wish to remain viable in the future.”
Steenhoek went on to explain what funding may be available for future repair and construction.
“Costs go up over time, so we have to find ways to keep money going in or we wind up with a funding gap,” Steenhoek said. “That’s why Iowa and other states voted to raise their fuel tax in past years.”
Steenhoek said he believes maintaining the integrity of the shipping system is worth the investment.”
Iowa Corn Growers Association Vice President Mark Recker was quite plain spoken about the need.
“We need to fix these locks and dams and modernize them to meet world class standards in the twenty first century,” Recker said.
Recker also said the United States is in competition with Brazil and Ukraine, and the country needs new structures to lower costs, so the very large production of grain can come down the rivers and compete in the world market.
Iowa Corn Growers Association Executive Director Craig Floss spoke to the group about accomplishments during the fifty years the Iowa Corn Growers Association has been in existence. He gave a summary of activities of the association with many references to political action that has led to improvement of political positioning for corn and corn products. Transportation infrastructure is the most challenging issue for the association today.