Farmers need upgraded locks and dams on the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers and your Illinois Corn Growers Association (ICGA) has continually fought to elevate the visibility and awareness of that need in Washington, DC. In 2017, lock and dam modernization may have a fighting chance.
This week, ICGA sent letters to every member of the Illinois Congressional Delegation, advocating for lock and dam upgrades. We feel that an opportunity exists with President Trump’s infrastructure bill and we continue to advocate for including funding for locks and dams in that infrastructure investment.
A recent study by the University of Tennessee and the University of Kentucky analyzed the economic impacts of expediting the construction of Congressionally authorized lock modernization projects in a 10-year timeframe (the same as President Trump’s infrastructure plan) rather than the current estimate of 20 years or more. The economic impact was the creation of 350,000 jobs with an economic impact of $15 billion annually.
Benefits to updated river infrastructure go well beyond the transportation, manufacturing, agriculture, and construction sectors. Water intakes for municipal use, flood control, recreation, and ecosystem restoration to improve habitats and enhance water quality also benefit from a modernized, more efficient inland navigation system.
Our hope is the new administration and Congress will recognize the benefits of constructing these necessary projects in a manner that will ultimately reduce costs and increase benefits to Illinois and beyond.
ICGA will continue to work with Waterways Council Inc, a national public policy organization that advocates for a properly funded and well-maintained system of inland waterways and ports that consist of a coalition of barge companies, agriculture, and other stakeholders, to impact change in Washington, DC.
And we’ll do what we can here in Illinois to support their efforts and make heard the importance of locks and dams to our farmer members.