The Ports-to-Plains Alliance is please to share the series "Keeping Rural America Competitive" by Agri-Pulse. We will publish the first four in the series in the next few days and then will complete the series as it is published by Agri-Pulse on a weekly basis. This is important reading for our members and those interested in Rural America.
September 12, 2016
This article is the first in a seven-part series, “Keeping Rural America Competitive,” that Agri-Pulse is publishing to give readers some perspective on the history and status of America's infrastructure and improvements needed to help farmers and ranchers remain competitive, prosperous and enjoying a strong quality of life.
One of the reasons American agriculture is so competitive is our infrastructure,” says Andrew Walmsley, an American Farm Bureau Federation expert who advocates for strong infrastructure to serve the country's farmers. He points to ¨the advantages we've had with our waterways, what has historically been a very strong interstate (highway) system, and strong rail network. They´ve all kind of built a foundation for U.S. agriculture to grow.¨ But in more recent years, he says, ¨There has definitely been some hand-wringing over the health of that infrastructure.¨
Walmsley sees his foremost role as protecting agriculture from laws and regulations that can break links between infrastructure advances and the farm economy: countering environmental opposition to lock replacements on the Mississippi River system, for instance, or new river port terminals in the Pacific Northwest. “It´s important for us to ensure there is an environment for innovation to take place to address (infrastructure) needs,” he says.
Much of the underlying concern about the need for better infrastructure stems from the projection that food production in the U.S. and abroad will need to dramatically increase, with estimates of world population exceeding 9 billion by 2050. U.S. farmers and ranchers are poised to dramatically increase productivity and help “feed the nine” - if they have a strong distribution network that can both deliver inputs to them and move their crops, livestock, dairy and poultry products to markets - all enhanced by the burgeoning connections with broadband and wireless communications.
Yet, numerous reports and surveys point to infrastructure challenges on the horizon. Read on…