Bipartisan infrastructure bill impacts agriculture through funding for bridges, ports

Agribusiness

A bipartisan infrastructure bill made its way out of the Senate this week.

In a vote of 69 to 30, the bill provides half a trillion dollars in additional spending combined with existing baseline dollars. Total funding for infrastructure jumps to $1.2 trillion over the next eight years.

The major funding categories include roads, bridges, ports, and waterways which make up a total of $127 billion. Breaking that down for agriculture needs, that has $40 billion for bridge repairs and $17 billion for the ports.

Mike Steenhoek with the Soy Transportation Coalition breaks down some of the basic costs of why the bill is needed. As an example, a weight-restricted bridge resulting in a five-mile detour for local semi truck traffic on average would end up costing about $70,000 to $80,000 a year, that is inserted into food delivery or other industries. He says roads and bridges are vital to agriculture.

“That’s the mode of transportation that’s the link in the supply chain that makes all of the subsequent deliveries occur. This is the mode that provides linkage from the farm to the original delivery location whether it’s an elevator or processor or what have you. So, if you don’t have an effective system of rural roads and bridges the whole profitability of agriculture will never be realized,” says Steenhoek.

He also says building roads and bridges or enhancing ports gives the nation a capital asset that will last into the future, pointing out the difference between spending and investing.

When it comes to critical infrastructure investment is needed to make the economy run smoothly.

“Of all of the things that we do spend money on in this country, we do think infrastructure should be set apart as one of those areas that provides benefit in the future and it’s something that Americans can really rally around and they do agree generally that it is an appropriate area for government investment whether you’re a Republican or Democrat,” says Steenhoek.

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