The Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2022 is now making its way to President Joe Biden to be signed into law. WRDA 2022 was included as part of the FY23 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives on December 8. The bill was passed in the U.S. Senate earlier this week by a vote of 83-11.
“Our nation’s transportation infrastructure is critical to agriculture and rural America’s competitive advantage in world markets, and WRDA provides vital support for that network,” The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) President and CEO Corey Rosenbusch said in a press release. “WRDA is the foundation for the modernization of our nation’s inland waterways and ports, which are an integral component of the fertilizer distribution system.”
TFI points out a particular component of WRDA 2022 as being especially important. The legislation’s reauthorization makes the cost-share structure for inland waterways permanent. A total of 65 percent of the funding will be derived from the general treasury while the remainder comes from the Inland Waterways Trust Fund. TFI also highlights the dire need for modernization of aging water infrastructure, which will benefit farmers along with consumers.
Support for WRDA 2022 also came from several other farming organizations including the Agricultural Transportation Working Group (ATWG). The ATWG includes organizations such as the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, American Farm Bureau Federation, and National Milk Producers Federation. In a letter addressed to Congressional leadership, ATWG praised the bipartisan recognition of the importance of the legislation.
“American agriculture’s competitive advantage depends upon the quality, accessibility, and cost-effectiveness of a comprehensive transportation system including inland waterways and ports, rail service, highways, roads, and bridges,” the letter states. “From the Pacific Northwest to the Mississippi River and the Gulf Coast, the importance of inland waterways and ports to the ATWG and American agriculture is definitive.”