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Kansas stands to benefit substantially when the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act becomes law. The White House projects over $3 billion will come to Kansas through the improvement of roads, bridges, electric vehicle charging stations, and the expansion of high-speed internet.

Much of this infrastructure spending is critical to Kansas agriculture.

Now is a once-in-a-generation chance to throw a life preserver to our farmers and ranchers, yet Senators Jerry Moran and Roger Marshall both voted “no” on this legislation.

Our farmers and ranchers should be outraged. For decades, our agricultural industry has suffered from a systemic lack of federal infrastructure investment and when a bill finally garners bipartisan support, neither of Kansas’ Senators voted for it.

The bill contains $110 billion for roads and bridges, $66 billion for passenger and freight rail improvements, and $17 billion for port infrastructure.

These allocations provide funding to fix transportation routes critical to the delivery of agricultural products grown in Kansas. Our farmers and ranchers rely on the nation’s roads, railways, and waterways to transport their goods to market.

The allocation for port infrastructure is especially beneficial as waterways provide a cost-efficient and environmentally friendly way to move and export farm produce. The Mississippi River plays a major role in transporting grain commodities — and Kansas is one of the country’s top producers of grain crops. According to the US Department of Agriculture, shipping delays caused by outdated locks along the Mississippi cost an average of $44 million annually. This bill provides much needed improvements to the inland waterway system that directly benefits Kansas farmers.

Additionally, extreme weather events like droughts, wildfires, flooding, and erosion deteriorate much of the aging infrastructure critical to transportation of Kansas’ agricultural goods.

Droughts and flooding affect waterways and there are few alternate cost-efficient pathways for grain transport in the United States. This reduces the ability of our farmers to export their grains to international markets. This legislation provides tens of billions of dollars to fight these extreme weather events and a further $150 billion for clean energy and climate change protections.

Mitigating extreme weather events is crucial to Kansas agriculture. The US Food and Drug Administration projects changes in the frequency and severity of droughts and floods pose major challenges for our state’s farmers and ranchers.

These events can affect crop yields and directly threaten livestock, making it more difficult to grow crops and raise animals in the same ways and same places as we have done in the past. Research conducted by Harvard University indicates that unless immediate mitigation steps are taken, major droughts are expected to affect 60% of wheat-growing areas around the world — including Kansas. Our state was the country’s largest wheat producer in 2019 and second largest in 2020 — Kansas grows approximately 18% of all US wheat.

Furthermore, the International Food Policy Research Institute projects that by 2050, the effects of extreme weather changes will result in a crop yield loss of greater than 5% in our state. This legislation has the potential to slow these alarming projections and provide long-term stability for Kansas’ farmers.

To put it briefly, this legislation is a big deal for our state’s agriculture. Instead of voting for it, and throwing a critical lifeline to Kansas agriculture, Senators Moran and Marshall chose ideological virtue signaling over Kansas’ future.

Alexandra Middlewood is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Wichita State University.

(8) comments

ibtirish

perhaps the author of this aught to ,,, eat a little less wheat

Aim_High

Stay classy, fool.

ibtirish

spend spend spend , long as some farmers benefit it is ok, Hell why not 8 trillion , if 3 is great then say 8 or 12 aught be terrific get them farmers gold plated tractors

Aim_High

The national debt under Trump went from 19 trillion to 27 trillion, but we didn't hear a peep out of you... Sad! Trumps friends can actually afford gold plated tractors now thanks to Trumps tax cuts, and you finally decide to speak up and your opinion is screw the Kansas farmer... Very sad! And let me guess... your opinion is the people who can now afford these gold plated tractors should pay a lower tax rate than you or I... Trickle down economics, right? Trump 2024? Saaad!!

Rationa1

Infrastructure builds wealth. Moody's estimates each dollar of investment in infrastructure yields $1.60 in economic development. Pretty good return on the citizen's investment.

Elrod

So the blame can go all around both parties.

havesomehorsesense

Elrod, where do you live? Apparently not rural Kansas where everyone is Republican. Every other word they have spoken since January has been to bitch about Biden spending THEIR money. If this article is true, I’d find it to be kind of poetic justice if it didn’t pass.

Elrod

I do not disagree that our US senators voted against the bill, but it’s still passed in the Senate, and it’s the Democrats that are holding it up in the house.

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