Photo Courtesy of USB
ASA will focus on securing funding through the annual budget and appropriations process. Specific requests are to provide $118 million for deepening of the Mississippi River shipping channel and significant up-front, lump sum funding combined with a shift in the cost-share ratio to further accelerate completion of Inland Waterways Trust Fund (IWTF) projects, including upgraded locks on the Upper Mississippi and Illinois River systems.
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.
ASA urges the Department of Transportation (DOT), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), other agencies, and private industry to ensure an infrastructure allowing U.S. soybeans to be delivered to domestic and international markets in a timely and cost-effective manner.
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