Sep 14, 2020 2:54 PM

Port authority reaps benefits for farmers in St. Joseph region

Posted Sep 14, 2020 2:54 PM

By BRENT MARTIN

St. Joseph Post

Congressman Sam Graves says the St. Joseph Regional Port Authority doesn’t just benefit the city, it benefits farmers throughout the region.

Graves says barge traffic gives farmers another transportation option and one which nearly always is cheaper.

“It’s a huge benefit,” Graves tells reporters during a recent visit to St. Joseph. “It’s just another opportunity, another transportation opportunity, for shipping product, both in and out. Any time you can do that it spurs competition. It allows for cheaper shipping which is good for customers and consumers all over the country.”

Graves points out the St. Joseph port has had to adapt, not just with the typically erratic Missouri River, but with flooding and with changes made by how the Army Corps of Engineers manages the river.

“We’ve seen the port here in St. Joe, it’s adjusted and shifted and had to do that as a result of navigation issues on the Missouri River and particularly this far north, but they’ve adapted and adapted well,” according to Graves. “So, it’s a great asset for St. Joseph.”

Graves says barge traffic often is the cheapest mode of transportation and, just its availability helps keep the cost of other transportation modes down.

Graves met with many groups during the Congressional break, including members of the Coalition to Protect the Missouri River.

The House in Washington, D.C. has approved the Water Resources Development Act, which includes around $9 million for the Army Corps of Engineers to shore up flood protection and restore the Missouri River eco-system. The Senate has yet to act on the legislation. Graves says a significant aspect of the act is to expand which Missouri River levees damaged by the 2019 floods are eligible for federal assistance.

“Including non-federal projects as well as federal projects in there, because it’s a system and if you don’t close those gaps in between the federal levees, then you obviously don’t have a system that keeps the water back,” Graves says

A piece in the legislation would end the practice of establishing complexes to aid in the spawning of the endangered Pallid Sturgeon. Graves says federal officials have failed to demonstrate the Interception-Rearing Complexes actually help the Pallid Sturgeon.