The National Corn Growers Association participated in Infrastructure Week, joining many other groups to point out the importance of the nation’s inland waterways. More than 60 percent of U.S. grain exports are moved by barge, making waterways of vital importance to agriculture. Farmers depend on the system to deliver crops to the global marketplace, and businesses rely on the rivers to bring products like fertilizer to the farm.
The current system, however, is aging and infrastructure related delays increase, making it difficult for farmers to meet timely demands for their product. Sixty percent of the 12,000 miles of the waterways in the heartland have outlived their 50 year economic design period. A large portion of the locks and dams in the U.S. were built in the 1920s and 1930s and are still being used today.
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.
NCGA reminds us that waterways are the safest, most environmentally friendly form of transportation. They have the best fuel efficiency record, relieve highway congestions and can increase productivity with higher capacity.