National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) President and Louisiana Commissioner of Agriculture Michael G. Strain and South Carolina Commissioner of Agriculture Hugh Weathers, Chair of NASDA’s Rural Development and Financial Security Committee, Thursday attended the White House Infrastructure Summit with President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and numerous Cabinet Secretaries, Governors, Mayors, and other state, local, and tribal leaders.
The event, part of the White House Infrastructure Week, was an opportunity for state and federal leaders to lay the ground work for cooperatively improving our nation’s infrastructure.
“Farmers and ranchers depend upon infrastructure to transport their products down the road and around the world,” said Commissioner Strain. “American agriculture’s infrastructure is a critical factor in national security that addresses the unique needs of rural communities as well as U.S. competitiveness internationally. Farmers can’t simply relocate to their customer base but instead rely on functional rural roads, rail, harbors, bridges, highways, and waterways.”
“For agriculture, we work together on all levels of government to invest in and improve our nation’s infrastructure, including expanding broadband to connect rural communities, and updating agriculture research facilities. This ensures that the rural economy stays competitive, and rural Americans can do their jobs.”
Strain particularly noted the significance of the U.S. inland waterways system which has experienced a 700 percent increase in unscheduled stoppages for repairs in the past decade.
“Our inland waterways and ports are an essential lifeline which move eighty-five percent of grains destined for the global marketplace. We must work cooperatively to improve our dilapidated waterways system which is failing our food producers. Congress must prioritize funding for these critical infrastructure projects. The agriculture community stands ready to work with our federal partners to produce measurable results for U.S. infrastructure using strategically targeted investments and streamlined regulatory processes.”
NASDA is a nonpartisan, nonprofit association which represents the elected and appointed commissioners, secretaries, and directors of the departments of agriculture in all fifty states and four U.S. territories. To learn more about NASDA, please visit www.nasda.org.