House Passes Inland Waterways Tax

The U.S. House of Representatives passed an act Wednesday that included a provision to increase the Inland Waterways Tax, the tax diesel fuel barge companies pay to help underwrite the costs of new lock and dam construction and major rehabilitation, from 20 cents to 29 cents per gallon. The provision was part of H.R. 647, the “Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act”.

The passage of the bill comes as good news to the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association (MSGA), as they recently signed onto a letter in support of the legislation before it was introduced.

The 9 cent increase in the per-gallon barge fuel fee demonstrates the value of maintaining and improving our nation’s waterways and is good news for the soybean industry.

Many customers of the inland waterways system and agriculture groups, including the MSGA and the barge industry, have promoted an increase in the Inland Waterways Tax nationally for a number of years.

“Congestion on the railways over the last 12 months have highlighted need for waterways transportation for Minnesota farmers,” said Tom Slunecka, CEO of Minnesota Soybean. “While only a portion of Minnesota farms regularly ship product down river, the ability to upgrade the lock and dam system via this tax could mean millions in saved expenses for Minnesota farmers.”

Just last week the MSGA had signed onto a letter in support of this bill introduced by Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN).

If the Senate follows suit in passing the legislation and it is signed by President Obama, it will provide the needed funding to improve the increasingly out-of-date lock and dam inventory in our nation’s inland waterways.

The Inland Waterways Tax is assessed on 12,000 miles of waters, including most of the nation’s largest rivers: the Mississippi, Ohio, Illinois, the lower Missouri, and the Gulf and Atlantic Intracoastal waterways. These waterways are very valuable to soybean industry exports.

One barge can accommodate 52,500-57,000 bushels of soybeans. One 15 barge tow can accommodate 787,500-855,000 bushels of soybeans.