The Illinois Corn Growers Association has launched a grassroots campaign to generate calls to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns in response to his recent comments that our locks are "working well" under existing maintenance efforts.You can also go the ICGA Web site www.ilcorn.org and send a letter to Secretary Johanns via the Legislative Action Center. You can use the sample letter or write
ICGA has set up a toll free number that will ring at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. ICGA members, past participants on education barge tours, and members of the Midwest Area River Coalition (MARC 2000) are urged to call 1-888-WHY-CORN (that's 888-949-2676) and tell them we need to upgrade locks and pass the Water Resources Development Act.
your own message.
ICGA delegates attending the National Corn Growers Association's annual meeting in California will seek out Sec. Johanns as he is scheduled to speak at the conference. ICGA is also sending a delegation to Washington, DC the week of March 6 to work on the locks effort.
Here is an excerpt from the letter on the Web site:
"I was alarmed recently to hear or your comments stating our river transportation system is working well despite leaks and crumbling lock walls. This statement and position seems to be counterproductive to the hard work and very public position of this Administration to successfully conclude World Trade Agreement talks and negotiate trade agreements worldwide.
"There is ample evidence that we will see significant and growing economic losses from traffic delays at locks on this critical hub in our river transportation system. With increasing peak season tonnage, larger tow-barge configurations, and escalating agricultural production our locks are inadequate to move goods up and down the river without a costly and inefficient double locking process.
"We recently got a preview of what a disruption of river traffic can do to the U.S. economy when Hurricane Katrina temporarily disabled river commerce. A breakdown in a key lock on the system would carry similar economic consequences, although more protracted in nature.
"Serious trade progress requires a serious effort to modernize our locks and keep river transportation viable."