Snake River Dams Important to Wheat Growers
June 22, 2023
National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) CEO Chandler Goule provided an opening statement Wednesday at a Congressional Western Caucus Forum on the Importance of Hydropower to Rural Communities and the impacts it would have to the wheat industry. Participants in the forum provided varied perspectives on the importance of the Lower Snake River Dams (LSRD), and NAWG provided a wheat perspective on the importance of the river system and barging play in helping feed the world. In recent years, there have been renewed efforts that would propose altering flow regimes and even removing certain locks and dams within the river system, which would have a devastating economic impact on communities across the Pacific Northwest and jeopardize wheat competitiveness, not just in the Pacific Northwest Region but nationally.
“The Lower Snake River Dams are a critical infrastructure system required to move U.S.-grown wheat to high-value markets around the world,” said Chandler Goule. “More than 55 percent of all U.S. wheat exports move through the Snake River system by barge or rail. Specifically, 10 percent of wheat that is exported from the United States passes through the four locks and dams along the Lower Snake River. This corridor is the third-largest grain export corridor in the world and is the single largest corridor for U.S. wheat exports.”
Barging is the most fuel-efficient mode of transportation when compared to railroads and trucking. A four-barge tow can move as much grain as 144 rail cars or 538 semi-trucks. Removing the dams would not only remove clean hydroelectricity but would mandate more significant carbon emissions as grain handlers are forced to rely on railroads and semi-trucks for long-haul delivery to export facilities in Portland and elsewhere.
NAWG remains opposed to breaching the dams as the agricultural, clean energy, and transportation benefits from the LSRD are irreplaceable and will continue to advocate on behalf of wheat growers to maintain this vital infrastructure.