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More reliable funding needed for locks and dams

More reliable funding is needed so that farmers can continue to rely on the nation’s locks and dams, according to a report by the Soy Transportation Coalition.

Mike Steenhoek, executive director of the coalition, says locks and dams have been allowed to deteriorate over time and the current system for funding them has led to project delays and overspending.

“As it relates to locks and dams we provide a little bit of funding initially and then a significant amount of time will elapse until another increment of funding will become available and then some more time will elapse,” he says.

He tells Brownfield the method of funding locks and dams is just as important as the amount of funding and the report looked at the best way forward for the Army Corps of Engineers if no new money is appropriated.

The report compared two hypothetical lock and dam projects that had the same initial cost of $500 million and timeline of five years, but one had reliable funding and the other didn’t….

“If you provide that funding in a predictable manner it gets done within five years and for $500 million, but if you provide it in the way we currently do that same project will cost $573 million and it will take 8 years to complete,” he says.

Steenhoek says inland waterway systems help farmers deliver grain and compete on a global scale, but they must be maintained.

“If we were to allow these locks and dams to degrade even further then we shouldn’t be surprised if we’re no longer the most cost-effective and competitive supplier for soybeans on the international marketplace,” he says.

The report was conducted by Texas A&M.

Audio: Mike Steenhoek, Soy Transportation Coalition 

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