Grain Exporters: Lower Snake River Settlement ‘Dangerous’ For Agriculture
In testimony submitted January 30 to the House Energy and Commerce Energy, Climate and Grid Security Subcommittee, the National Grain and Feed Association opposed a settlement deal between the Biden administration, state governments and environmental groups to study and potentially implement future removal of the Lower Snake River dams.
In a statement, NGFA endorsed a bill sponsored by Reps. Dan Newhouse, R-Wash.; Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash.; Lori Chavez-DeRemer, R-Ore.; Russ Fulcher, R-Idaho; and Cliff Bentz, R-Ore., that would prevent federal funds from being used to study dam breaching.
“We are deeply concerned with the settlement agreement between the White House, several of the tribal governments and NGOs in the Pacific Northwest, as its implementation will have devastating impacts on U.S. farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses throughout the United States,” said NGFA President and CEO Mike Seyfert in the testimony. “Removing the Lower Snake River dams will hurt producers and negatively impact the operations and livelihoods of NGFA members and their employees who have made investment decisions based on the ability to utilize barge transportation.”
On December 14, the Biden administration announced a $1 billion plan with environmental groups, four tribal governments and the states of Washington and Oregon meant to address salmon declines in the Columbia and Snake River system. The settlement deal proposes that the administration help fund and conduct studies on “how the transportation, irrigation and recreation services provided by the four Lower Snake River dams could be replaced, to help inform Congress should it consider authorizing dam breach in the future.”
Barge transportation moves about half of all grain exports to export elevators and is critical to NGFA members in the Pacific Northwest. The Columbia-Snake River System is the third-largest grain export corridor in the world, transporting nearly 30 percent of U.S. grain and oilseed exports. Notably, barges are the most environmentally friendly mode of transportation for grains and oilseeds, with one four-barge tow moving as much grain as 140 rail cars or 538 semi trucks.
“Advocates of breaching the dams suggested barge traffic could be replaced by rail or truck transportation,” Seyfert said. “The NGFA would like to clarify that the required alternative infrastructure capacity simply does not exist at this time, and it is highly unlikely that it could be created in an economically viable amount of time – if it can be developed at all.”
NGFA’s full testimony can be read here.
The NGFA, established in 1896, consists of grain, feed, processing, exporting and other grain-related companies that operate facilities handling U.S. grains and oilseeds. Its membership includes grain elevators; feed and feed ingredient manufacturers; biofuels companies; grain and oilseed processors and millers; exporters; livestock and poultry integrators; and associated firms that provide goods and services to the nation’s grain, feed and processing industry. The NGFA consists of 27 affiliated state and regional grain and feed associations, is co-located and has a strategic alliance with the North American Export Grain Association and has a strategic alliance with Pet Food Institute.