The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) has applauded passage by the U.S. House and Senate of the 2001 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill that includes important river-related provisions championed by the NCGA.
The House passed the bill 301 to 118, and the Senate passed the bill 57 to 37.
"The NCGA has worked hard for the river-related provisions in the bill," said NCGA President Lee Klein of Battle Creek, NE. "Congress obviously understands the needs of America's farmers when it comes to our country's rivers and the important role river navigation plays in the movement of grain and other agricultural commodities."
Among the provisions of the bill NCGA supports are $2.1 million for the Upper Mississippi River Navigation Study, and $4.7 million for reconstruction design and engineering on five locks on the Upper Mississippi River and two on the Illinois River. This bill also includes an important provision regarding the management of the Missouri River.
Congressional passage of the Missouri River management provision (Section 103) put to rest, for now, a battle between Sen. Kit Bond, R-MO, and Sen. Tom Daschle, D-SD. An amendment sponsored by Daschle would have given the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service authority to proceed with implementing a "spring rise" on the Missouri River next year.
But Bond, primary sponsor of the Section 103 language, argued that a spring surge or "controlled flood" could bring disastrous floods on the Missouri River and disrupt navigation on both the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers.
"Again, Congress recognized and validated Senator Bond's concerns," Klein said. "However, there is a good possibility that President Clinton will veto the bill simply because of election year politics regarding the Section 103 provision. NCGA will push to see that the President does not veto a bill containing language that he has signed four times previously."
Klein also applauded Congress for appropriating sought-after funding targeted for the Upper Mississippi River Navigation Study and improvements on the Mississippi and Illinois rivers.
"It is vital that Congress and the Administration focus on our deteriorating river infrastructure," noted Klein. "Without these necessary improvements, the United States stands to lose its competitive edge as the world's leading corn exporter to the emerging competition in countries like Brazil and Argentina."