(NAFB)--According to the Hagstrom Report - the House passed the Water Resources Reform and Development Act by a vote of 417 to 3 late last night. The Senate passed the bill earlier this year - and the White House endorsed the bill while noting some revisions. The American Farm Bureau Federation and American Soybean Association are pleased with the House for passing this legislation. AFBF President Bob Stallman says having an efficient, reliable inland waterway system linked to competitive ports is vital to America's ability to provide affordable farm products in the U.S. and to compete in the global marketplace. More than 60-percent of U.S. grain exports are transported through inland waterways and 95-percent of farm exports and imports move through U.S. harbors - he says - so improvements and upgrades to aging U.S. locks and dams authorized under WRRDA are long overdue. ASA President Danny Murphy notes soybeans are the nation's leading farm export - with each bushel exported depending on the waterways infrastructure. Murphy says this bill takes a great step to reversing the trend of recent years with river channels, locks, dams and ports suffering from lack of upkeep and investment.
The passed bill includes provisions to:
- streamline environmental reviews
- establish hard deadlines and cost caps on project studies
- allow non-federal interests to contribute funds to expedite project components
- annually increase the amount of funding provided from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund for port maintenance and dredging
- and free up money to increase the capacity of the Inland W