The country’s inland navigation system moves more than a billion tons of domestic commerce valued at more than 300-billion dollars per year. This includes about 60 percent of all grain exports. To let candidates for political office know that farmers and their allies are paying attention to their positions on funding for essential lock and dam improvements along the Mississippi River, representatives from commodity organizations, shippers, barge operators and the Waterways Council have decided to move forward in the creation of a structured plan that places an emphasis on expressed goals.
After an organizational meeting, the Waterways Council was selected to lead this new effort. Now, WCI will begin to review an action proposal by former Illinois Congressman Jerry Weller, of the U.S. Strategies Corporation, and Phil Bradshaw, an Illinois farmer. NCGA President Garry Niemeyer believes, – acting together, we can magnify our voices, and thus our effectiveness, exponentially.  Achieving our goal is not only important for farmers and shippers, our nation as a whole will benefit from the job creation and shipping efficiencies this project would generate.
Investment in the Upper Mississippi and Illinois Waterways has not kept pace with the needs of the transportation sector.  The lock system is approaching 80 years old and cannot accommodate modern barging practices that use 1,100 foot barge-tows.  Many of the locks are only 600 feet long, forcing barges to use the time-consuming and dangerous double-locking procedure. 
NAFB News Service