With the Army Corps (Corps) in the midst of developing the list of projects it will fund and begin work on this year, Sen. Joni Ernst (R., Iowa), a member of the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee, expressed her strong support for the dredging project on the Mississippi River.
Having heard from a number of Iowa farmers, Ernst met with R.D. James, assistant secretary of the Army who oversees all aspects of the Corps Civil Works program, including flood control and navigation, to stress the need for the Corps to fund a key dredging project on the Mississippi River.
The project would deepen the Mississippi River Ship Channel -- a stretch of the river from Baton Rouge, La., to the Gulf of Mexico -- from 45 ft. to 50 ft. More than half of all U.S. corn and soybean exports are shipped through this channel.
“Completing this project will put more money in the pockets of our hardworking farmers and help make Iowa’s agriculture products more competitive in the global market,” Ernst said. “I made it clear to secretary James how important this project is for Iowa, and I hope to see the Army Corps prioritize it in 2020.”
Deepening the channel will allow ships to carry more corn, soybeans and other goods, lowering shipping costs and allowing producers to command higher prices for their crops. Research commissioned by the Iowa-based Soy Transportation Coalition found that Iowa soybean farmers would receive an additional $71 million for their crop if this project is completed.
“Ernst understands that, in order to be profitable, it is not enough for farmers to simply grow a crop. They also need to be able to efficiently transport that crop. Deepening the lower Mississippi River is arguably the single infrastructure investment that would provide the greatest economic benefit to Iowa and U.S. soybean and corn farmers," Soy Transportation Coalition executive director Mike Steenhoek said.
“Today’s market access challenges and harsh economic realities underscore the need for transportation efficiencies and infrastructure investments,” said Iowa farmer Tim Bardole, president of the Iowa Soybean Assn. “The Mississippi River system is a critical link allowing farmers to export our products around the world in a timely and cost-effective manner.”