Hello. I'm Mike Pearson. America’s agricultural sector occupies a bright spot in an otherwise gloomy trade picture.
The government predicts ag exports will soar to a record $149.5 billion this year, due largely to strong foreign demand for U.S. grain and oilseeds.
According to USDA, every billion dollars in exports supports nearly 7,000 U.S. jobs and the shipments contributed to the livelihoods of nearly a million workers last year.
Agriculture’s contribution to the economy is one of the few things policymakers agree on these days. And, this week, an all-too-rare display of unity in Washington resulted in a multibillion dollar project to improve U.S. ports -- AND improve flood control in the Grain Belt.
Waterways across America will get a facelift after the stroke of Barack Obama’s pen. The president approved a $12.3 billion bill this week aimed at improving historic ports to enhancing flood control in the Corn Belt.
President Barack Obama: “As more of the world's cargo is transported on these massive ships, we've got to make sure that we have got bridges high enough and ports that are big enough to hold them and accommodate them, so that our businesses can keep selling goods made in America to the rest of the world. Meanwhile, many of America's businesses ship their goods across the country by river and by canal, so we have got to make sure that those waterways are in tip-top shape and this bill gives a green light to 34 water infrastructure projects across the country, including projects to deepen Boston Harbor, and the port of Savannah and to restore the Everglades and with Congress' authorization these projects can now move forward."
This bill enjoyed bipartisan support from Congressional leaders, as the language contained no pet projects, or pork, traditionally included in spending bills. The price tag was half of a similar measure approved seven years ago.
The legislation authorizes the diversion of the Red River in the Fargo-Moorhead area which has dealt with several major floods in recent years.
Cedar Rapids, Iowa also will receive money for flood management.
Coastal communities were allocated funds for hurricane and storm damage reduction. And environmental restoration is also included in the law.
All of the improvements were recommended by the Army Corps of Engineers and the rare instance of congressional compromise sets the stage for nearly three dozen projects over the next decade and may help pave the way for approaching legislation.
President Barack Obama: "The fact that this bill received some bipartisan support, I think, hopefully sets a pattern for additional work we can do on our transportation infrastructure. We need a transportation bill by the end of this summer in order to make sure that projects all across the don't get shut down."