What is in this article?:
- Louisiana's Port Allen grain facility leased by Louis Dreyfus.
- Lease agreement requires massive upgrade of facilities.
- Through-put at facility expected to increase price farmers receive for grain.
Dredging the Mississippi River to allow for barge and ship traffic is not an issue specific to the Port Allen facility. But in recent months keeping shipping channels open has become a major concern because the Army Corps of Engineers, tasked with the dredging, says it is underfunded.
“Dredging must continue,” says Strain. “It’s that simple. I have on my desk a letter to President Obama requesting immediate attention be given to dredging the river. We’ve had several meetings and have sent letters to our entire congressional delegation about this.”
The National Association of the State Departments of Agriculture, “unanimously passed a resolution to support action to fully utilize all funds in the harbor maintenance trust fund for the purpose of dredging our nation’s ports, rivers and waterways to fully meet navigational channel requirements,” says Strain.
Sixty percent of the nation’s grain – worth some $240 billion a year -- comes down the mighty Mississippi River. That amount doesn’t count “coal, iron ore or petro-chemicals,” says Strain. “Break it down and that’s 45 percent of the nation’s soybeans, 50 to 60 percent of all total U.S. corn exports. The Mississippi River contains the largest port system in America and enables 30 states to ship their goods to export markets. It’s absolutely huge.”
In order to meet President Obama’s export initiative calling for the doubling of exports “we must fund these infrastructure needs and do it properly,” says Strain. “That’s true not just for the Mississippi River but all our ports and harbors.”