eNews • December 11, 2014
Promoting a Cost-Effective, Reliable and Competitive Transportation System

House approves fee increase for nation’s locks and dams

On December 3rd, the House of Representatives passed, by a vote of 404-17, H.R. 647, the “Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act.” The ABLE act will allow people with disabilities to establish tax exempt savings accounts to cover the costs of housing, transportation, and other expenses related to their treatment. Attached to the ABLE Act was a provision to increase the Inland Waterways Tax - the tax on diesel fuel barge companies pay to help underwrite the costs of new lock and dam construction and major rehabilitation - from 20 cents to 29 cents per gallon.

Customers of the inland waterway system, including agricultural organizations, and the barge industry have promoted an increase in the Inland Waterway Tax for a number of years. If the Senate passes and President Obama signs the legislation, it will provide needed funding to help improve our nation’s increasingly dilapidated lock and dam inventory. It truly is a reflection of the importance of the inland waterway system and the dire condition of our nation’s locks and dams that barge companies, and the customers who will ultimately absorb much of these costs, have promoted a tax increase that will be imposed on them.

The Inland Waterways Tax annually generates between $75 - $85 million. These funds are matched from the federal treasury. As a result, the Inland Waterways Trust Fund generates approximately $150 - $170 million each year. As mentioned, these funds are utilized for new construction and major rehabilitation of locks and dams. Operations and maintenance are funded 100% by the federal government. Each one cent increase in the Inland Waterways Tax equates to $3 - $4 million of additional revenue each year. Therefore, the 9 cent increase will annually generate between $27 - $36 million of additional revenue.

The Inland Waterways Tax is assessed on 12,000 miles of waters that include most of the nation’s largest rivers: the Mississippi, Ohio, Illinois, the lower Missouri, and the Gulf and Atlantic Intracoastal waterways.

One barge can accommodate 52,500 - 57,000 bushels of soybeans. One 15 barge tow can accommodate 787,500 - 855,000 bushels of soybeans.

The Mississippi Gulf is the largest port region for soybean and corn exports. 58% of soybean and 67% of corn exports depart from the terminals located along the lower Mississippi River between Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and the Gulf of Mexico. Approximately 90% of the soybeans and corn loaded onto those ocean vessels arrive via barge along the inland waterway system.


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