Rotten roads mean rotten food
If you're trying to sell food, you need to move it quickly from farm to table. Otherwise, both your product and profits spoil.
As economist Walter Kemmsies reported in the May edition of American Shipper, "U.S. agriculture exports have grown in the last ten years and have an important role in reducing the trade deficient and, therefore, economic growth."
He goes on to explain that "West Coast ports, particularly in the Pacific Northwest, have gained the most share. This reflects the growing demand for these commodities in Asia, where West Coast ports are natural gateways for this trade flow."
However, Kemmsies notes that infrastructure issues play a role. When products are unable to easily ship through their nearest port, customers shift not only their supply chains, but also their product sourcing.
For example, a prominent Washington hay company has started sourcing its hay from other states for export through southern California ports because its Washington-grown hay keeps getting stuck in traffic on its way to Puget Sound ports. Without continued investment in our nation's road, rail and water networks, "U.S. agricultural exports could soon be at a permanent competitive disadvantage," writes Kemmsies.
Yet another reason for why the Legislature needs to complete its work on a statewide transportation package before going home. Let's not watch Washington exports spoil simply because they are stuck in highway and political gridlock.