INDIANAPOLIS — Hoosier grain farmers are relieved that repair work on a critical lock and dam on the Ohio River will continue with the approval of the federal budget.

As part of the budget agreement, Congress included a provision that allows work on the Ohio River’s Olmsted Lock and Dam to continue by raising the caps on what can be set aside to fund the repairs.

Olmsted is Indiana’s access point to the Mississippi River, these locks are important to not only Indiana agriculture, but also many other industries that rely on the river system to move goods.

The Indiana Corn Growers Association and the Indiana Soybean Alliance Membership and Policy Committee believe the congressional action will benefit Indiana farmers and the state’s economy by ensuring the project continues to move forward and that 400 workers stay on the job.

Many of the country’s locks and dams have far exceeded their 50-year usable lifespan, and the Olmsted project replaces two of these that fall into that category — Locks 52 and 53 on the Ohio River.

“Our research shows that if either of these locks failed and stayed closed for a year, it could cost Indiana farmers nearly $20 million,” said Joe Steinkamp, chair of ISA’s policy committee and a farmer from Evansville. “Grain only accounts for 5 percent of the volume on the Ohio River, so just think what a closure could mean for other industries who rely on the river much more than we do.”

Both Indiana senators, Republican Dan Coats and Democrat Joe Donnelly, voted for the Senate bill that was then agreed upon by the House. Reps. Susan Brooks, R-Ind.; Andre Carson, D-Ind.; Pete Visclosky, D-Ind.; and Todd Young, R-Ind., voted in support of the bill.

“We appreciate the bipartisan support of our Indiana delegation in supporting this bill,” said Herb Ringel, ICGA president and farmer from Wabash. “We hope they continue to support legislation that works to modernize our inland waterways system, including the Water Resources Reform Development Act, which is expected to go to the House floor this week.”

For more information on the importance of the inland waterways system to Indiana corn and soybean farmers, visit www.indianasoybean.com/rivertour.