As the House of Representatives named its conferees and agreed to conference the Water Resources Development Act with the Senate, the National Corn Growers Association issued a legislative action call alert to its nearly 33,000 grassroots members, calling on growers to contact their legislators and voice their support for the bill.

WRDA has been a priority piece of legislation for NCGA and its affiliated state organizations. The bill includes legislation that authorizes construction of seven new 1,200 foot locks on the Upper Mississippi and Illinois Rivers.

The naming of the House conferees signals a step forward in the process to pass the Water Resources Development Act in the 109th Congress. After the Senate names its conferees, the two chambers will hold a conference committee to pass a final bill and send to President George W. Bush's desk.

Once the Senate conferees are named, it is possible the conferees could finish work on the conference report by the end of September.

"We are very pleased the House has named its conferees," said Gerald Tumbleson, NCGA president. "We have come so close so many times. Corn growers are committed to working with the conferees up until the end. We will work to get final passage of the conference report and signature of President Bush before Congress adjourns in October."

Bill Chase, who chairs NCGA's Production and Stewardship Action Team, noted WRDA is not just a locks and dams bill; it is more about maintaining this nation's vital transportation infrastructure and environment.

"This bill is about maintaining an infrastructure that is critical to all businesses and consumers, not just producers," Chase said. "It modernizes our port system and provides environmental restoration and flood control. The United States is seriously delinquent on its upkeep of its inland waterways infrastructure system. It has been made very clear through the adverse weather conditions and the river shutdowns over the past few years how important the inland waterways system is in transporting all goods."

In addition, NCGA is asking growers to alert their legislators to two provisions contained in the Senate WRDA bill that are of great concern. Corn growers should urge legislators to reject the Senate's Corps reform provisions, which would go well beyond advertised "reform" objectives and have the unintended consequence of throttling other provisions that authorize critically needed infrastructure modernization and flood control measures across the nation.

NCGA has been working with congressional leaders to gain support for Corps reform provisions in the House WRDA bill, which provides for workable enhancements to independent peer review that will improve the decision-making performance of the Corps.

The House conferees for WRDA are: Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Don Edward Young (R-Alaska) and Ranking Member James Oberstar (D-Minn.); Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee Chairman John J. Duncan, Jr. (R-Tenn.) and Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas); Reps. Richard Baker (R-La.); Gary G. Miller (R-Calif.); Henry Brown (R-S.C.); John Boozman (R-Ark.); Jerry Costello (D-Ill.); Timothy H. Bishop (D-N.Y.); Richard Pombo (R-Calif.); Marilyn Musgrave (R-Colo.); and Ron Kind (D-Wis.).

SOURCE: NCGA news release.