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Parson backs dredging of lower Mississippi River


Gov. Mike Parson has decided to back a project — dredging the lower Mississippi River — touted as a boost for farmers in Missouri and the Midwest.

In a combination of letters to federal employees, Missouri’s chief executive asked for “support in helping secure and direct federal funding” to deepen the lower Mississippi River from 45 ft. to 50 ft.

The project “would provide significant benefit to Missouri and other states connected to the Mississippi River and tributaries,” Parson wrote to Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget. 

He wrote a similarly worded letter to R.D. James, assistant secretary of the Army for Civil Works. 

Particularly, soy and corn farmers would benefit from the deepening of the river. 

The Missouri River Ship Channel — which extends 256 river miles from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to the Gulf of Mexico — accounts for 60 percent of United States soybean exports and 59 percent of corn exports. 

The Missouri River and Tributaries project has an estimated $735.7 billion annual economic impact and is responsible for approximately 2.4 million jobs, Parson said. The Soy Transportation Coalition calculated that completion of this project would result in $35 million in additional revenue for Missouri soybean farmers and $461 million across the U.S. 

The Director of the Civil Works for the Army Corps of Engineers has issued a report that describes dredging the lower Mississippi River as “economically justified and environmentally sustainable.” The report highlighted the benefit/cost ratio of the project to 7.2 to 1. 

The overall project is estimated to cost $245 million and would occur in three phases.  Two of the phases would be cost-shared between the federal government (75 percent) and non-federal sources (25 percent). It could take as long as four years to complete.

The United Soybean Board in July invested $2 million to be combined with approximately $21 million in federal funding — which has yet to be approved — and $7.5 million in funding from the State of Louisiana to initiate the first year’s work of the project

“Infrastructure investment allows us to provide significant value for industries that rely on international markets. It is our hope the United States will continue to demonstrate our ability to outcompete the rest of the world. To do so, we must strategically invest in our infrastructure. Deepening the Missouri River Ship Channel will be one such investment that will propel our country into the future,” Parson wrote.