Responding to transportation issues mentioned in the SOTU

Our buddy Mike Steenhok at the Soy Transportation Council has released the following response to President Donald Trump's State of the Union Address:

"President Trump encouraged a bipartisan effort to address the needs of our nation’s multi-modal transportation system.

While we are very appreciative of the inclusion of transportation infrastructure during the President’s remarks, we are particularly hopeful that this intention will soon become an outcome. It is time for infrastructure to move from the on deck circle to the batter’s box. We encourage the President and Congress to enhance not just the transportation needs of urban America, but also the needs of rural America. The temptation among our elected leaders is to regard transportation challenges in terms of urban congestion or long commute times. While this is most certainly a frustrating reality for many Americans that should be addressed, we must also be attentive to the addressing the challenges of moving freight, including agricultural freight. 

Given the current anxiety and challenges confronting agriculture, in general, and the soybean industry, in particular, due in part to the trade friction with China and other international customers, the federal government has been exploring opportunities to moderate the negative consequences being experienced by farmers. The U.S. Department of Agriculture aid package was a result of this effort. As the challenges confronting agriculture continue, I think it very appropriate to continue this discussion and impress upon our elected officials that, as the federal government continues to explore what tools it has in its toolbox to assist farmers during this turbulent environment, may infrastructure investment and policy be regarded as one of the more effective tools at their disposal. Devoting resources and effort towards transportation infrastructure will not eliminate all the challenges confronting the industry, but it can certainly chip away at it. 

We sincerely hope a bipartisan effort can produce an infrastructure initiative that benefits the needs of both urban and rural areas of this country. In 2018, the Soy Transportation Coalition released its “Top 10 Most Wanted List” of infrastructure priorities. We are hopeful any effort by our elected leaders to address our transportation challenges will include some or all of these priorities.  

Soy Transportation Coalition’s “Top 10 Most Wanted List” of Transportation Priorities:

  • Maintenance & rehabilitation of locks & dams to significantly reduce the potential for unexpected, widespread, & prolonged failure. Priority should be devoted to ensuring the reliability of locks & dams along the nation’s inland waterways.
  • Dredging the lower Mississippi River between Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to the Gulf of Mexico to 50 ft. 
  • Ensuring the Columbia River shipping channel from Portland, Oregon, to the Pacific Ocean is maintained at no less than 43 ft. 
  • Permit six axle, 91,000 lbs. semis to operate on the interstate highway system. 
  • Increase the federal fuel tax by ten cents a gallon & index the tax to inflation. Ensure rural areas receive proportionate, sufficient funding from the fuel tax increase. 
  • Provide greater predictability & reliability of funding for the locks & dams along the inland waterway system.
  • Provide block grants to states to replace the top twenty most critical rural bridges.
  • Provide grants to states to implement rural bridge load testing projects to more accurately diagnose which bridges are sufficient & which bridges are deficient. 
  • Ensure full utilization of the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund for port improvement initiatives.
  • Permanent (or at least multi-year) extension of the short line railroad tax credit.

The attached several slides provide some additional information on some items on the top 10 list, but I wanted to add some additional commentary on a handful of items."

Make sure to join us for Thursday's Big Show when Mike join us to further explain. Listen below:

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