eNews • August 5, 2011
Promoting a Cost-Effective, Reliable and Competitive Transportation System

Support is sought for harbor and waterways dredging

Congressman Charles Boustany (R-LA) recently disseminated a letter to fellow members of Congress urging support for H.R. 104 – The Realize America’s Maritime Promise (RAMP) Act.  The bill, introduced by Boustany, ensures funds brought into the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund are used as originally intended – the dredging and maintenance of the nation’s ports and waterways. 

In his letter, Boustany explains the importance of passing the legislation, “Failure to maintain these ports and waterways in the wake of recent flooding and sediment depositing impacts regional and national commerce, reduces our economic competitiveness, and increases the risk of vessel groundings, collisions, and pollution incidents.  During this time of economic turmoil, we cannot afford to leave our agriculture commodities sitting on the dock at the detriment of our farmers and ranchers.” 

The Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund was established in 1986 and is funded via a tax on the value of imports and domestic cargo arriving at U.S. Ports with federally maintained harbors and channels.  The tax collects $1.3 to $1.6 billion annually. 

The RAMP Act currently has 111 cosponsors in the House of Representatives.  A companion bill, S.412, has been introduced in the Senate by Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) and has 24 cosponsors. 

In establishing the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund, there was an understanding that revenue generated from the tax would be spent on dredging and channel maintenance.  Instead, about half is spent on such projects.  The balance is spent on other discretionary projects that are unrelated to harbor maintenance. 

While there is a $6.1 billion surplus in the account, that money has already been spent.  To regain that surplus or even to get 100 percent of the trust fund revenue in future years for harbor maintenance, it would require a reduction in spending in other areas, which will be a sizable challenge for this legislation to be successful.

The Soy Transportation Coalition is comprised of thirteen state soybean boards, the American Soybean Association, and the United Soybean Board. The National Grain and Feed Association and the National Oilseed Processors Association serve as ex-officio members of the organization.

Soy Transportation Coalition
1255 SW Prairie Trail Pkwy., Ankeny, Iowa 50023
Phone: (515) 727-0665 Fax (515) 251-8657
Email msteenhoek@soytransportation.org
Web www.soytransportation.org

Funded by the Soybean Checkoff