It’s a new year and IL Corn has New Year’s Resolutions too! In 2013, we hope to:
- Pass a workable Farm Bill
- Defend the Renewable Fuel Standard
- Secure funding to upgrade locks and dams on the Mississippi River
- Reintroduce ourselves to the non-farming public
3. SECURE FUNDING TO UPGRADE LOCKS AND DAMS ON THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER
I really feel like I’m beating a dead horse with this one, but here goes …
Illinois farmers, as well as Illinois business and Illinois citizens, need upgraded locks and dams. They are an important part of the economic driver that agriculture is to the state (more than 50% of our corn is exported) and they are the means by which we receive coal, road salt, and other important inputs.
To put it mildly, if a lock or dam was to fail and commerce on the Mississippi was to stop, every single one of us would feel it.
Commerce on the Mississippi has been significantly slowed this winter as the effects of the 2012 drought linger on. If Mississippi River commerce had closed in the two month period of December to January:
- Over 410 tows would be impacted, and more than 10,600 barges would be stopped
- 4,100 towboat jobs would be impacted
- 5 million barrels of domestic crude oil would be replaced by imported crude, costing $545M in additional imports
- About 300 million bushels of farm products delayed in reaching market
- Coal worth $192M would be shut in
- Total cargo valued at $7 billion would stop moving if the river were closed between St. Louis and Cairo, IL, due to low water
And that’s just a two-month closure! What we’re actually looking at is a catastrophic failure that will take months to fix unless we proactively update the locks and dams.
The locks we’re using were built for paddle boats in Mark Twain’s era. We need to upgrade them so we can compete with other nations. Not to mention, that we will become second to Panama (SECOND TO PANAMA) when their expanded locks and dams open and ours are still old, crumbling, and inefficient.