BLOOMINGTON — U.S. waterways transport 60 percent of the nation’s export-bound grain and provide the means for American farmers to receive fertilizer for planting season. Following the long awaited passage of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA), several Illinois Farm Bureau (IFB) members and staff will talk port infrastructure including ship, barge, rail, truck and river delivery during a four state, six-port tour Aug. 30 to Sept. 6.
More than 15 IFB members and staff will travel to ports in Georgia, Louisiana, Texas and Virginia. Participants will meet with multiple stakeholder groups to discuss challenges as well as proposed upgrades or expansions. Additionally, participants will learn more about major ag-related products moving in and out of each port.
Walnut resident Ron Pierson is just one of several farmers who will be on the trip. Pierson, who raises corn, soybeans and hay, is looking forward to using the information to advocate for the future of U.S. infrastructure.
“We now live in an era of world markets,” Pierson said. “In order to be competitive in these markets, it is vitally important that our infrastructure be as efficient as possible; we need to make this a top priority for the nation.”
Pierson will be traveling with other farmers from across the state, including: Larry Beck, Carmi; Nelda Burnett, Metropolis; Paul Beisiegel, Freeburg; Chet Esther Jr., Frederick; Rock J. Katschnig, Prophetstown; Jeff Kirwan, New Windsor; J. Larry Miller, Thompsonville; Jim Malley, Abingdon; David Carr, Macon; J.C. Reitmeier Jr., St. Joseph;and Brian Niemann, Walshville.
“Our ultimate goal is to develop a framework of farmer leaders who can speak with authority on river, rail, highway and other infrastructure issues and assist with future legislative priorities in these areas,” said Tamara Nelsen, senior director of commodities, IFB. “Maintaining the competitiveness of American agriculture via investments in our infrastructure and cooperation with like-minded groups and coalitions will be a key outcome of the tour.”
The Illinois Farm Bureau is a member of the American Farm Bureau Federation, a national organization of farmers and ranchers. Founded in 1916, IFB is a non-profit, membership organization directed by farmers who join through their county Farm Bureau. IFB has a total membership of more than 400,000 and a voting membership of more than 82,000. IFB represents three out of four Illinois farmers.