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September 25, 2007   Email to Friend 

Tracy Taylor Grondine
(202) 406-3642
September 25, 2007

WASHINGTON, D.C., Sept. 25, 2007 -- The Senate today approved legislation that would increase the size and capacity of locks and dams on rivers essential to the transportation of many American farm products.

The American Farm Bureau Federation hailed Senate passage of the conference report for H.R. 1495, The Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), because the bill includes provisions to expand and modernize locks and dams on the Upper Mississippi and Illinois rivers.

"Improvements to locks and dams on the Upper Mississippi and Illinois rivers are needed if American agriculture is to remain competitive in a global economy," AFBF President Bob Stallman said. "Twenty-five percent of American agricultural cash receipts come from exports, and much of it moves down the Mississippi River and its tributaries. This bill contains provisions that would result in the doubling in size of the locks on the Upper Mississippi and Illinois rivers."

"The provisions contained in this bill will help ensure that U.S. agriculture will be able to compete with Brazil and China and other countries that have invested heavily in their infrastructure," Stallman said.

The legislation also authorizes the Army Corp of Engineers to undertake water infrastructure improvement projects across the U.S. The proposed projects range from flood control and dam safety initiatives to storm damage reduction and environmental restoration efforts.

The House of Representatives already approved the legislation so now it is up to President Bush to sign this bill into law or allow it to become law. AFBF urges the president to move expeditiously on this important legislation that is vital to American agricultural interests.

Passage of this long-overdue infrastructure modernization package signifies success after years of efforts by Farm Bureau members and staff. The last WRDA bill was approved in 2000.

In addition, because this is authorizing legislation, supporters of new WRDA legislation must turn their attentions to ensuring the requisite dollars are appropriated to implement the provisions contained in the conference report.

Further, the Bush administration has objected to the overall cost of the bill, which is projected around $21 billion, and threatened to veto it. It is worth noting that an important reason the cost of the bill is high is because Congress has not approved a WRDA bill since 2000.

The House earlier approved the bill by a veto-proof margin of 381 to 40.

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