Farm Progress

MR&T Project is an investment, not an expense

Arkansas farmer Harry Stephens says the Mississippi River and Tributaries project has paid for itself many times over

Forrest Laws

May 5, 2017

There’s a push in Washington to increase defense spending while cutting other parts of the federal budget. (It’s ironic how the national debt doesn’t seem to matter when you can throw a few more shipbuilding contracts someone’s way.)

Such thinking fails to recognize that projects like the Mississippi River and Tributaries Program, which has been protecting the Mississippi Valley from flooding for decades, are just as vital to the national defense as a couple of more submarines or battleships.

Harry Stephens, who represents Arkansas on the Mississippi Valley Flood Control Association, made that point during testimony at a hearing of the Mississippi River Commission. Stephens is a farmer from Helena in Phillips County, which sits at the junction of the Mississippi and St. Francis Rivers.

“I would like to remind you that the investment in the MR&T system in preparation for the 2011 flood resulted in more than $246 billion worth of damages prevented by the MR&T system,” said Stephens. “That’s a return on federal dollar investment of 46-1.”

Click on the Farmcast icon to hear portions of Stephens’ testimony.

About the Author(s)

Forrest Laws

Forrest Laws spent 10 years with The Memphis Press-Scimitar before joining Delta Farm Press in 1980. He has written extensively on farm production practices, crop marketing, farm legislation, environmental regulations and alternative energy. He resides in Memphis, Tenn. He served as a missile launch officer in the U.S. Air Force before resuming his career in journalism with The Press-Scimitar.

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