Signing of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014 into law today puts America’s inland waterways and port infrastructure on a solid and sustainable foundation to contribute to U.S. economic growth, jobs and global competitiveness for generations to come, said the American Farm Bureau Federation
“The American Farm Bureau Federation and our 6 million member families have long championed an efficient and reliable inland waterway system linked to competitive ports,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman. “The ports, channels, locks, dams and other infrastructure that support our waterways transportation are vital to America’s ability to provide affordable agricultural products at home and abroad,” he said.
U.S. waterways transport 60 percent of the nation’s export-bound grain, supply American farmers with fertilizer for planting season and provide a competitive advantage against producers of farm goods outside the nation’s borders.
Implementation of the waterways law will result in $6 billion in total cost savings and important reforms to ensure the reliability and strength of the nation’s inland waterways and ports.
The law contains the majority of Farm Bureau’s priorities, including improvements to the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund and the Inland Waterways Trust Fund. It also establishes minimum authorization levels for the HMTF and requires 100 percent of funds to be spent on port infrastructure improvements by 2025.
The IWTF federalizes 85 percent of the costs associated with the Olmsted Locks and Dam project freeing up more than $100 million annually to be utilized for other priority projects on the waterways system. This is an increase from the current 50/50 split between federal dollars and funds paid by users into the IWTF.
The law also includes provisions related to the Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasures Rule, allowing self-certification by a farmer of more on-farm fuel storage, up to 6,000 gallons.
Passage of the waterways bill was a strategic action item for Farm Bureau.
“We look forward to working with the administration to start implementing the newly passed law as soon as possible,” Stallman said.