Policy & Politics
Port Infrastructure (national policy)
Issue: The Mississippi River is used to transport agricultural goods from across the country. There is a problem with silt/soil removal along the Mississippi River, causing barges and carriers to load their cargo in increasingly shallow waters. Currently Harbor Maintenance Trust (HMT) funds are used to dredge and maintain waterways for navigation.
Background: As the American economy has grown, the United States has become more and more dependent on its waterborne trade. Today, international trade through U.S. ports, directly and indirectly, supports 25-30 percent of U.S. GDP and 13 million jobs. For U.S. agriculture the impact is even larger, 30-35 percent of agricultural income is derived from exports, the vast majority of which is transported via water. Overall, deep draft ports accommodate ocean-going vessels which carry more than 99 percent of U.S. overseas trade by weight and 64 percent by value.