The U.S. Senate voted overwhelmingly to pass the Water Resources Development Act by a vote of 93-1. The WRDA bill includes important provisions for modernizing the U.S. waterways infrastructure and praised by agricultural groups.
Congress has passed a WRDA every two years since 2014. The legislation provides stakeholders with the opportunity to address important navigation, ecosystem and flood protection issues critical to American industries and communities. Building on the progress of WRDA 2020, Section 103 of the Senate’s WRDA 2022 amends the cost-share for inland waterway projects to 75% general Treasury funds and 25% from the Inland Waterways Trust Fund.
This cost-share ratio change was the American Soybean Association’s top priority in the legislation. Cost share allocation changes for inland waterways projects often reduce overall project costs and allow projects to be completed faster—allowing communities and industries to realize the economic benefits of a project more quickly.
In June, the House of Representatives passed its version of WRDA by a vote of 384-37. This bill did not include the same adjustment to the cost-share allocations for IWTF projects. The House and Senate will now begin conference negotiations to reconcile the differences between the two bills.
“This permanent cost-share change would expedite the modernization of U.S. inland waterways and bolster the ability of NGFA members to fulfill their role in the agricultural value chain to serve American farmers and domestic and global customers,” says National Grain and Feed Association President and CEO Mike Seyfert.
ASA will continue to support the Senate provision to adjust the cost-share allocation, as it will make significant progress in addressing the current backlog of construction projects along the inland waterways system. Completing this backlog of construction to resolve bottlenecks and slowdowns along the system will help alleviate supply chain issues, ASA says.
“The strength of America's farm economy relies on the efficiency of its inland waterways system,” ASA notes.
NGFA also emphasized that a final WRDA bill should maintain navigational access to the lower Snake River dams.
“A final WRDA 2022 should neither authorize nor pave the way for the breach or removal of dams in the Columbia-Snake River System, which is the third largest grain export corridor in the world and is crucial to American agriculture’s global competitiveness,” Seyfert adds.