The president of the Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA) last week urged immediate action by U.S. officials to begin the process of upgrading the Mississippi-Illinois river system.
Speaking after a press conference with Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Richard Durbin (D-IL), ICGA President Bob Bowman called the current system of locks and dams "yet another example of how our nation has neglected essential infrastructure maintenance and improvements."
"When we look at what it takes to prosper, the river system is as essential as highways and bridges," said Bowman, who farms near DeWitt, Iowa. "We have to be able to move raw materials, commodities and other goods that support our economy and feed our people up and down the river."
Many of the locks and dams are old
He noted that significant portions of the Mississippi River-Illinois River waterway system were built in the 1930s with an expected usable life span of 50 years: "This infrastructure and all of our economies in the Midwest are now operating on borrowed time and now we need to plan for the future."
The ICGA supports the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) currently moving through Congress. WRDA would authorize construction of seven new locks at key shipping points on the rivers and fund unprecedented levels of ecosystem restoration.
Bowman was one of a number of Iowa agricultural leaders at a Waterways Council press conference held at Lock and Dam 15 in Rock Island, Ill., to focus on the river system's importance to the Midwest and nation. ICGA is a membership organization, lobbying on ag issues on behalf of its 6,000 members.