In a June 7 speech in Cincinnati, President Donald Trump unveiled additional details on his administration’s plans to rebuild U.S. infrastructure through a $1 trillion investment plan.
“Isn’t it about time?” he said. “Spending money all over the world except here. We don’t spend our money here – we spend it all over.”
Trump’s infrastructure plan promises to partner with the private sector, “getting government out of the way.” His proposed budget includes $200 billion in public funds as part of an overall $1 trillion investment plan, which proposes to fund projects through a mixture of loans and grants.
The plan calls for rural America to receive grants for rebuilding bridges, roads and waterways. States and cities will also receive grants to meet their own infrastructure needs.
Waterways – not just roads and bridges – were discussed as a vital component of U.S. infrastructure. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, inland waterways support upwards of 270,000 jobs and $30.9 billion in annual economic activity. About 60% of grain exports use inland waterways, and up to 25% of the nation’s coal and petroleum are moved in this way as well.
Repairs to the nation’s aging river infrastructure are often lengthy and costly, noted Illinois Soybean Growers CEO Craig Ratajczyk, who was at the Ohio rally.
“When a lock fails, all the barges stop,” he said. “This halts our producers’ ability to get their soybeans to their customers. Thousands of dollars of increased transportation costs also add up as the barges line up and wait their turn. That impacts customers, shippers, manufacturers, commodity investors, farmers and consumers.”
NCGA market access team chairman Ken Hartman pointed out that most of the nation’s locks and dams have outlived their intended 50-year lifespans. But farmers and ranchers rely heavily on all types of infrastructure to run successful operations, he added.
“Farmers rely on our national infrastructure every day to get our products to market quickly, safely, and efficiently,” he said. “Waterways, roads, and bridges are central to farmers' efforts to feed and fuel the world, and we must invest in all of them.”
Trump promised “first-class infrastructure” that would come in “on time, under budget, maybe even ahead of schedule.” His plan proposes to “spur growth and investment in infrastructure by dramatically reducing permitting time for projects from 10 years to 2 years and slashing regulations to speed up the decision making process.”
Mike Steenhoek, executive director of the Soy Transportation Coalition, was at the event and shared some of his insights with Pro Farmer editorial director and Market Rally host Chip Flory. Listen below for more.