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NGFA raises alarm over lower Snake River dam proposal

The NGFA voiced concerns over a proposed study to remove Lower Snake River dams, highlighting potential devastating effects on U.S. agriculture and barge transportation.

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The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) has expressed significant concern over a proposal to study the potential removal of the Lower Snake River dams. This proposal is part of a settlement agreement involving the Biden administration, state governments, and environmental groups, aimed at addressing salmon declines in the Columbia and Snake River system.

In a testimony submitted to the House Energy and Commerce Energy, Climate, and Grid Security Subcommittee, NGFA President and CEO Mike Seyfert highlighted the detrimental impacts the removal of these dams could have on U.S. agriculture. Seyfert emphasized that dismantling the dams would negatively affect farmers, ranchers, and agribusinesses across the nation, disrupting critical barge transportation routes.

The Biden administration's plan, announced on Dec. 14, includes a $1 billion agreement with environmental groups, four tribal governments, and the states of Washington and Oregon. It proposes funding studies to explore alternatives to the services provided by the four Lower Snake River dams, such as transportation, irrigation, and recreation.

NGFA opposes any actions that could lead to the breaching of these dams, citing their crucial role in the agricultural economy. Approximately half of all U.S. grain exports are moved via barge transportation along the Columbia-Snake River System, the world's third-largest grain export corridor. Barges, noted for being the most environmentally friendly transportation mode for grains and oilseeds, play a vital role in this system.

Seyfert argued that replacing barge traffic with rail or truck transportation is not currently feasible. The infrastructure capacity for such a switch does not exist, and creating it would be economically challenging and time-consuming.

Last week, NGFA endorsed legislation proposed by Reps. Dan Newhouse, R-Wash.; Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash.; Lori Chavez-DeRemer, R-Ore.; Russ Fulcher, R-Idaho; and Cliff Bentz, R-Ore. This legislation aims to prevent federal funding from being used to study the breaching of dams. The association's firm stance reflects the agricultural industry's concerns about the potential economic and environmental repercussions of removing the Lower Snake River dams.

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