Western ports that handle billions worth of agricultural goods each year are due for an upgrade, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation. AFBF joined the Alliance for Northwest Jobs & Exports this week to show support for three proposed multi-commodity export terminal projects in the Pacific Northwest.
Located in Cherry Point, Wash., Longview, Wash., and Boardman, Ore., the three projects under consideration are expected to bring thousands of jobs while strengthening the region's trade infrastructure, benefitting coal, agriculture and other producers, AFBF said.
"Last year alone, more than $141 billion worth of U.S. agriculture products were exported around the globe," said Steve Baccus chair of the American Farm Bureau Federation Trade Advisory Committee. "The Pacific Northwest is a crucial gateway for agricultural exports, and these export facilities will help our members meet the increased demand for their goods in burgeoning Asian markets."
AFBF said trade is responsible for 40% of all jobs in Washington, the most trade-dependent state in the nation. Agriculture products are Washington's third-largest export. In Oregon, one in five jobs is dependent on international trade with agricultural products and services accounting for 10% of Oregon's gross domestic product.
Lauri Hennessey, spokeswoman for the Alliance for Northwest Jobs & Exports, said many local and state-wide Farm Bureaus have already pledged support for the projects, which she expects will lead to the "expansion of trade for all kinds of exports including wheat, grain, soybeans and corn."
Exports from these projects will travel by freight trains. In Washington alone, there are more than 3,200 miles of track that move goods around the state. Those goods include coal, timber, agricultural and consumer products.
According to the Washington Research Council, the increased investment associated with coal and agricultural exports will keep the trade doors open for decades to come by strengthening the rail presence in U.S. port cities.
AFBF said its Trade Advisory Committee is currently touring the Pacific Northwest looking at ports and waterways infrastructure. Members visited the Port of Vancouver earlier this week, and after Seattle are headed to Portland and Oakland.
The visit comes just as Congress prepares for a final decision on the Waterways Reform Act, legislation that could provide more funding for inland waterways and expand transportation efficiency for agricultural products.