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Toll-free number lets growers ask Senate to take up river locks

Agriculture.com Staff 05/10/2006 @ 1:45pm

The Water Resources Development Act (WDRA) is waiting to be brought to the floor of the U.S. Senate, and the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) is encouraging farmers to pick up the phone and help it along.

A toll-free number, 888/WHY-CORN, has been established for growers and other interested parties to call Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and ask him to take up the bill.

"We have fought for many years to get this bill passed because it is so important, not just to the agriculture but for the nation's economy," said Bill Chase, NCGA Production and Stewardship Action Team chairman.

WRDA authorizes the construction of seven 1,200-foot locks on the upper Mississippi and Illinois Rivers and an expansive ecosystem restoration program for the Mississippi River basin area. The bill also includes immediate implementation of small-scale measures, such as guide-wall extensions and helper boats, to help alleviate congestion. Funds would also be approved for Florida's Everglades and coastal regions of Louisiana.

Eighty-one senators have called on Frist to put the bill on the voting schedule, but it remains stalled. According to Lisa Kelley, NCGA director of public policy, however, there has been some movement on the bill in recent days. The House passed its version of the WRDA bill last July by a 406-14 vote.

"We are cautiously optimistic that several necessary procedural requirements are in the works to bring the bill to the floor," Kelley said. "However, there is concern that the bill will get bogged down by too many amendments, which makes an agreement on debate time difficult to achieve. If and when the bill clears all the procedural requirements, then it is ready for the floor."

The toll-free number is sponsored by the Illinois Corn Growers Association.

The Water Resources Development Act (WDRA) is waiting to be brought to the floor of the U.S. Senate, and the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) is encouraging farmers to pick up the phone and help it along.

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