Grain News

General Authority Office Looks at Dredging Issues on Lower Mississippi River

Date Posted: August 10, 2017

This article is reprinted from the USDA's August 10 Grain Transportation Report.

In July 2017, the General Accountability Office (GAO) released a report titled Inland Harbors: The Corps of Engineers Should Assess Existing Capabilities to Better Inform Dredging Decisions (GAO-17-635).

The report addressed dredging issues at 13 inland ports on the Mississippi River between St. Louis, MO, and Baton Rouge, LA, which primarily move agricultural commodities (corn, soybeans, and rice), petroleum products, and crude materials (sand and gravel).

GAO reported that funding constraints are a major issue that limits the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) ability to fully address dredging needs at these 13 ports.

The report revealed that some stakeholders believe the smaller ports are negatively affected by the Corps’ emphasis on funding ports with higher tonnages.

However, GAO stated in the report the Corps is statutorily required to examine dredging needs based upon national, regional, and local benefits; and to consider other factors beyond tonnage.

GAO concluded by saying, “the Corps should inform Congress whether it can adapt its existing tools to address factors for allocating funds from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund, and the resources needed to do so.”

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