The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) applauds the Senate for introduction of the Water Resources Development Act of 2005 (WRDA), which includes legislation authorizing seven new locks on the upper Mississippi and Illinois rivers.

The legislation was introduced by Sens. Kit Bond (R-Mo.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), John Warner (R-Va.), David Vitter (R-La.), Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), Tom Harkin (R-Iowa), Jim Talent (R-Mo.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), George Voinovich (R-Ohio), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), John Thune (R-S.D.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Ark.), Barack Obama (D-Ill.), and Pete Domenici (R-N.M.).

The legislation includes authorization for seven new 1,200-foot locks and authorizes an expansive ecosystem restoration program for the Mississippi River basin area. The bill also includes immediate implementation of small-scale measures, such as guide-wall extensions and helper boats to help alleviate congestion.

NCGA president Leon Corzine noted that NCGA and other grassroots organizations concerned about rural America acknowledge much work remains to be done. "Failure to get WRDA to the President's desk this year will have dire consequences for corn farmers and agriculture as well as rural America," he said.

"The waterways infrastructure on the upper Mississippi and Illinois rivers was built in the 1930s with a life expectancy of 50 years; frequent delays caused by these antiquated locks are hurting our family farmers," Corzine said. "Additional transportation costs to farmers caused by the poor condition of these locks may soon grow to 17 cents per bushel."

Mark-up of the bill is tentatively scheduled for April 13.

Source: Association Release