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13 October 2016 - We are falling apart out here!

“We are falling apart out here and nobody is doing anything about it. Nobody is even talking about it.” That was the opening line of a rather lengthy e-mail from a Midwest farmer, a few days ago, who then went on to talk about his concern over the deterioration of the infrastructure in rural America.

He was talking about roads and bridges. He asked ‘whatever happened to these farm-to-market roads that are to be supported by tax dollars?” He answered his own question by pointing out that
‘ . . . those states that have tax dollars to do that, find that state legislators borrow from the fund to carry out their ‘pet projects’. Meanwhile more rural bridges are closed for safety reasons and the deterioration of roads in rural America continues unabated.

Then he said - “I haven’t heard you talk lately about the waterway system, the deteriorating locks and dams on the Mississippi and the Illinois Rivers that are nearly a century old and continue to fall apart. We continue to see closings for repairs on various locks and dams because of their condition. What is happening there?”

My answer to that question would be - NOTHING. Congress does pass legislation to authorize rebuilding and repair work on locks and dams on the waterway system. They approve the program but then, they don’t appropriate the money. Therefore, nothing gets done.

At the same time this is happening, the Panama Canal has been widened to accommodate larger ships to more easily move cargo, especially agricultural products, out of U.S. Gulf ports to the buyers in China and Southeast Asia. But if our waterway system can’t move our farm products from the Upper Midwest to the Gulf, we will lose any advantage that a wider canal would provide.

A few members of Congress understand the need for improvement on the U.S. waterway system, but not nearly enough to make a difference. And forget about our Presidential candidates; they don’t understand agriculture or the importance of agricultural trade, so don’t expect them to be concerned about our deteriorating infrastructure in rural America. Let’s support those in Congress who do understand and work on those who don’t.
To my e-mail writer...thank you for expressing your concerns so well and know I share your concerns. It is time to stop talking about them and start doing something about them.

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez.