Another reason the legislation is likely to pass is the need for U.S. ports to be able to accommodate larger ships that will soon pass through a revamped, deepened Panama Canal.

“We are happy to see the committee come to agreement, issue the report and make concrete steps toward repairing and improving our inland waterways,” said Martin Barbre, National Corn Growers Association president following the conference committee action. “Most of America’s locks and dams were built in the 1920s and 1930s. … Improving this crucial infrastructure will provide U.S. farmers and businesses a reliable transportation channel. By improving our ability to compete in export markets, we fuel our domestic economy as well.”

“This is a huge step forward to ensure the continued success of the soybean supply chain, and leaders in both the House and Senate deserve a great deal of credit for shepherding this bill through a challenging policymaking climate,” said Ray Gaesser, American Soybean Association (ASA) president.

Urging quick passage, the ASA said the legislation would:

  • Free up significant funding within the Inland Waterways Trust Fund for additional waterways infrastructure projects.
  • Increase the level of Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund dollars that will be spent on port maintenance and dredging.
  • Streamline the Army Corps of Engineers’ project review process.
  • Increase Corps flexibility to maintain navigation during low water events.
  • Promote the use of alternative financing and public-private partnerships to fund waterways infrastructure.