ASA Positions

Top Priority:

  • Locks and Dams – Provide $8.8 billion in accelerated funding over 10 years to complete the congressionally authorized projects on the inland waterways system, including locks and dams on the Upper Mississippi River, Illinois, and Ohio River systems.

ASA Also Supports:

  • Continue to increase annual appropriations for Inland Waterways Trust Fund (IWTF) and Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) and provide funding for pre-construction engineering and design (PED) for Navigation & Ecosystem Sustainability Program (NESP).
  • Establishment and funding of the Administration’s proposed Rural Infrastructure Program, including funding for rural broadband (Infrastructure Bill)
  • Streamline permitting process and regulatory barriers for infrastructure (Infrastructure Bill)
  • Sufficient funding of the Highway Trust Fund to support construction and maintenance of roads and bridges (Infrastructure Bill)
  • Improve trucking capacity and efficiency through increased truck weight limits on federal interstates (Infrastructure Bill or Transportation Appropriations)

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Waterways Council


Issues Background

Locks & Dams

ASA specifically supports providing $8.8 billion over 10 years for projects already authorized by Congress to modernize and upgrade the inland waterways system. This can be accomplished in an infrastructure bill, the 2018 Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) or annual appropriations bills. The existing Inland Waterways Trust Fund (IWTF) is funded by a 29 cent per gallon barge fuel fee, which is paid by industry including soybean farmers. The IWTF revenues from the barge fuel fee are matched with funds from the general Treasury for a 50/50 cost-share of projects. Industry stakeholders support shifting to a 75/25 cost-share as a means of accelerating IWTF projects that will otherwise take decades to complete. Other infrastructure programs such as ports and harbors have a 75/25 cost share ratio. Shifting the IWTF projects to a 75/25 cost- share would enable completion of the 25 congressionally authorized projects in 10 years. Among those congressionally authorized projects are locks and dams on the Upper Mississippi, Illinois and Ohio River systems that are vital to agriculture and other commodities.

Waterways: Annual Energy & Water Appropriations

  • Full funding and use annually of Inland Waterways Trust Fund revenues
  • Increased annual funding for Army Corps of Engineers Operations & Maintenance
  • Increased annual funding and requirement for full use of Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) revenues for dredging, maintenance and upgrades of channels, ports and harbors (Energy & Water Appropriations and WRDA bill)

The successful policy changes achieved in the 2014 Water Resources Reform & Development Act (WRRDA) must continue to be reflected in the annual Energy & Water appropriations bills.

Appropriate the highest level of funding that can be supported by the barge fuel fee revenues received into the IWTF. Increase funding for the Corps of Engineers’ Operations & Maintenance account. Increase funding for the HMTF for maintenance & construction of ports and harbors.

Provide funding from the Investigations account of the Corps of Engineers be allocated to continue pre- construction engineering and design (PED) for the Navigation & Ecosystem Sustainability Program (NESP) – Upper Mississippi & Illinois River System as authorized in 2007 WRDA.

Rural Infrastructure Program and Rural Broadband

Broadband access is important to economic competitiveness of farming operations and the quality of life in rural America. ASA supports efforts by local, state, and federal governments and the private sector to bring high quality and affordable broadband services to farms and rural areas.

The first recommendation of the Administration’s Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity was to expand e-connectivity in rural areas. Subsequently, the White House has proposed providing $500 million in FY2018 for a USDA/RUS grant and loan program to deploy broadband in rural areas. The grant component would support projects that would not otherwise cashflow.

The White House also proposed the establishment of a $50 billion Rural Infrastructure Program as part of their infrastructure initiative. These funds would be allocated to states through performance grants.

Streamline Permitting Process and Regulatory Barriers for Infrastructure Projects

The Administration’s proposed infrastructure initiative calls for streamlining of approval process and environmental reviews with a goal of reducing process to two years.

Roads and Bridges

ASA supports increased funding through the Highway Trust Fund to support construction and maintenance of roads and bridges.

Truck Weights

ASA supports increasing allowable truck weights on federal interstates to 91,000 for six axle trucks and trailers. Increasing weight limits in this manner on federal interstates would improve trucking capacity and efficiency without increasing wear and tear or adversely impacting safety.


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