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ALM Discusses Transportation Infrastructure and Economic Growth
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GreenStone recently cosponsored an educational forum for legislative staff in Lansing. The forum featured a presentation by Jim Byrum, president of the Michigan Agri-Business Association who discussed transportation infrastructure as it relates to Michigan’s agricultural sector.


ALM Discusses Transportation Infrastructure and Economic Growth

GreenStone recently cosponsored an educational forum for legislative staff in Lansing. The forum featured a presentation by Jim Byrum, president of the Michigan Agri-Business Association who discussed transportation infrastructure as it relates to Michigan’s agricultural sector.

The event was the first in a series of monthly lunchtime sessions that will be hosted by the Agricultural Leaders of Michigan, a coalition of agricultural, commodity and agri-business leaders committed to promoting Michigan agriculture, participating in the ongoing dialogue about issues affecting our state, and harnessing agriculture’s power and potential to further grow Michigan’s economy.

At the forum, Byrum discussed the current transportation needs of the industry, and explained why a successful transportation infrastructure plan must go beyond roads and bridges to also address rail and water transportation issues.

“Michigan’s agricultural industry has been growing rapidly over the past decade, and we’re positioned to continue expanding, creating jobs and growing Michigan’s economy,” Byrum said. “The agriculture sector depends on reliable transportation to ship food and agricultural commodities around the state and the world. Without a comprehensive infrastructure plan that includes roads, bridges, rail and ports, the growth potential of Michigan’s agriculture industry will be limited.”

Byrum used the example of Michigan’s annual corn crop to illustrate the efficiency of transporting goods by rail. Moving that crop by truck would take about 81,255 truckloads; meanwhile, moving that same amount of corn by rail would require just 30,000 railroad cars.

“Funding Michigan’s roads and bridges is an important priority, but we can’t lose sight of our broader transportation needs,” Byrum said. “Transporting food and agricultural commodities by rail or water is more efficient and less expensive than using trucks. Investing in ports and rail also takes some of the pressure off of Michigan’s roads while making Michigan companies more economically competitive.”

According to the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, there have been no outbound agricultural shipments by water, and very limited inbound freight in recent years. Byrum said that revamping outdated Coast Guard regulations on the use of barges, dredging commercial ports and focusing on the safe and sustainable use of ports are critical steps that will allow agriculture and industry to better utilize water transportation.