Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Oakland Port Calls for Federal Infrastructure Funding

The Port of Oakland has teamed up with the American Farm Bureau Federation to call for improvements in port infrastructure.

In late September, prior to the U.S. government shutdown, leaders from AFBF’s Trade Advisory Committee and Oakland port officials lobbied Congress to pass the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2013.

The Water Resources Reform and Development Act, or WRRDA, promotes investment in the nation’s critical water resources infrastructure, accelerates project delivery and reforms the implementation of Corps of Engineers projects.

Historically, Congress has passed such legislation every two years to provide clear direction to the Administration and the Corps; however, no bill has been signed into law since 2007.

“It is vital to the national economy for the federal government to make much needed investments into U.S. port infrastructure,” Port of Oakland Executive Director Chris Lytle said. “Ports need federal investment to improve infrastructure in order to be globally competitive and remain job-creating powerhouses.”

In 2012, about $6.74 billion in agricultural products were exported through the Oakland seaport to overseas customers, representing about 47.7 percent of the total 2012 value of exports leaving the port, according to data.

Before the federal shutdown, the AFBF was conducting an organizational campaign called “The Heat is On,” designed to communicate with members of Congress the importance of waterway and port infrastructure improvements, the farm bill and agricultural labor reform.

“There are no trucks or trains to Asia,” AFBF Trade Advisory Committee Chair Steve Baccus said. “In order to reach those consumers and compete in the world market, we must invest in port infrastructure.”
With the federal government partially shut down for at least the near future, the AFBF’s Trade Advisory Committee says it is currently touring the West and Pacific Northwest looking at ports and transportation infrastructure.