Executive Director Cal Klewin who represents Theodore Roosevelt Expressway on the Ports-to-Plains board of directors was in Washington, DC with a delegation of the organization’s supporters to meet with Congressional offices to discuss the importance of the Ports-to-Plains Alliance and other issues critical to growing our rural economy. The group of 17 people came from six different states and Alberta, Canada. From April 25 – 27 they met with 19 House of Representative offices including Rep. Kevin Cramer and Rep. Kristi Noem, 15 Senate offices as well as staff from the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
“I was really pleased with the reception we received to our message in Congress. By and large the delegation recognizes the importance of the Ports-to-Plains Corridor not only for our regional economy but for the whole country as it serves as a key connection to the nation’s energy and agriculture heartland,” said Klewin.
Among the items the Ports-to-Plains group discussed was a possible federal infrastructure plan, the need to address a permanent fix to shore up the highway trust fund and the importance of maintaining strong trade agreements for our region’s economy, especially our Ag producers.
“There has been quite a bit of talk about a big federal infrastructure package and there is no doubt that we certainly need to invest in our infrastructure. We let Congress know that such a plan should address the needs of rural America and not only focus on the big cities. We also wanted to promote the Ports-to-Plains Corridor as a project of national significance that should be strongly considered for funding,” said Klewin.
Trade was also a topic that was in the news while the Ports-to-Plains representatives were in Washington as President Trump announced that he would not withdraw the U.S. from NAFTA but did want to negotiate with Canada and Mexico to update the agreement.
“Trade is so critical for our agriculture producers, and Canada and Mexico as the second and third largest markets for U.S. farm products,” said Klewin. “While we are fully supportive of improving NAFTA, we would hate to see us completely withdraw from the agreement and start a trade war with our neighbors and best customers.”Ports-to-Plains is a grassroots alliance of over 275 communities and businesses, including alliance partners Heartland Expressway, Theodore Roosevelt Expressway and Eastern Alberta Trade Corridor Coalition, whose mission is to advocate for a robust international transportation infrastructure to promote economic security and prosperity throughout North America’s energy and agricultural heartland including Mexico to Canada. Additional information on the Ports-to-Plains Alliance is available at www.portstoplains.com/.