While farmers and the farm sector struggle to reform immigration policy and pressure Congress to advance the farm bill, it is easy for many Americans to forget the more mundane concerns of the agricultural community. In the middle of major federal budget cuts, however, some farm advocacy groups are pushing to protect transportation funding.
In a period where farmers are facing severe drought, hurricane level torrential rains, and crippling labor shortages, many voters and politicians are overlooking the day-to-day concerns of the farm sector. One of these concerns includes the desperate need for an improved transportation infrastructure.
Crops and farm products grown in rural areas need to be transported to urban markets. The quantities of farm products that are shuffled to and from field to market, in addition to the need for farmers to transport heavy farm equipment, put enormous strain on US roads, particularly in areas where highway repairs have not kept up with wear and tear.
In some states, the poor state of public infrastructure has led to well-publicized tragedy. Several years ago, a major bridge in Minneapolis, Minnesota collapsed, killing 13 people and injuring more than 100.
In some Midwestern states, local politicians are holding hearings to determine the best way to protect infrastructure without damaging farm production and agricultural sales. In Wisconsin, for example, the state Department of Transportation and Department of Agriculture are holding a series of public meetings to determine the impact of farm equipment on local roads.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer