Ernst Helps Secure Key Infrastructure Investment for Iowa Farmers

The dredging project would deepen a major shipping channel on the Mississippi River, directly impacting Iowa farmers and making our ag products more competitive in the global market

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) has helped secure resources for a major dredging project—which is broadly supported by Iowans—that will provide a boost for farmers and the agriculture community across Iowa.

After meeting with Senator Ernst just days ago, this week the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps) announced $85 million in funding for a major Mississippi River dredging project that the Senator strongly advocated for. The project would deepen the Mississippi River Ship Channel, a stretch of the river from Baton Rouge to the Gulf of Mexico, from 45 feet to 50 feet. More than half of all U.S. corn and soybean exports, including those grown and harvested by Iowa farmers, are shipped through this channel.

“Market access is critical for Iowa farmers and, for many, that access relies on their ability to get their goods to the Mississippi River and out to their final destinations—both domestic and international. Completing this project will put more money in the pockets of our hardworking farmers and help make Iowa’s agriculture products more competitive,” said Senator Joni Ernst. “I’m extremely pleased this project is being prioritized by the Corps and has the support to get underway, delivering another piece of good news for folks across the heartland that will position them for success for years to come.”

Iowa Soybean Association President, Tim Bardole, said, “As farmers continue to navigate a challenging farm economy, it’s vital to evaluate and improve efficiencies up and down the supply chain. Identified as a top priority by Iowa’s soybean farmers, deepening the Mississippi River’s shipping channel would cut transportation costs and enhance farmer competitiveness. Senator Ernst’s ability to elevate the project with the Administration helped ensure that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers included the project in its Work Plan. We’re grateful for her continued leadership on behalf of Iowa’s soybean farmers.”

Soy Transportation Coalition Executive Director, Mike Steenhoek, said, “Improving the lower Mississippi River shipping channel will significantly enhance the competitiveness of Iowa and U.S. soybean and corn farmers. If we want to export more, we need to have a transportation system that can accommodate more. Deepening the lower Mississippi River will better position farmers to meet the needs of our international customers. As a leader on both infrastructure and agricultural issues, Senator Ernst has been an effective advocate in promoting this important project. We sincerely appreciate her efforts on behalf of farmers in Iowa and throughout the country.”


Senator Ernst has consistently heard from Iowa farmers about their support for this project. Two weeks ago, Senator Ernst met with the Assistant Secretary of the Army, R.D. James—who oversees all aspects of the Corps’ Civil Works program, including flood control and navigation—to stress the need for the Corps to fund the project.

Senator Ernst met with Assistant Secretary James two weeks ago.

Deepening the channel will allow ships to carry more corn, soybeans, and other goods, lowering shipping costs and allowing producers to command higher prices for their crops. Research commissioned by the Iowa-based Soy Transportation Coalition found that Iowa soybean farmers would receive an additional $71 million for their crop if this project is completed.

This week, the Corps announced funding for several projects in its Fiscal Year 2020 Work Plan, including $85 million to deepen the Mississippi River Channel.