Stacey Satterlee, Idaho Grain Producers Association, bemoans the cost to Idaho farmers of shipping grain to Portland by rail rather than barge. Here’s what barging grain costs everyone else:
Taxpayers spend millions annually subsidizing grain shipments by barge. (Every barge that leaves Lewiston costs taxpayers $20,000 just for channel dredging and lock operations/maintenance.) Homeowners pay higher electricity rates for required fish mitigation. Idaho tourism loses many millions because of the poor fish runs. Entire communities like Riggins suffer economically. The logging industry experiences lost timber sales because Idaho salmon and steelhead remain threatened with extinction. The Nez Perce people have lost much, much more.
The resident orcas in the Salish Sea are starving to extinction because of a lack of Chinook salmon. People lost 20,000 acres of land, including small farms and riverine habitat. Birders lost 85,000 songbirds; hunters lost 110,000 game birds.
Many grain growers have apparently concluded barging is not the most efficient and cost-effective means of getting their grain to market. Over the past 20 years grain volume on the lower Snake has declined 45 percent.
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Do Idaho grain growers ever consider what everyone else must pay so they can ship grain by barge rather than rail?
Linwood Laughy, Moscow