America's Crumbling Infrastructure in Agriculture

A Solution to America’s Crumbling Infrastructure — Agriculture

In Gravel Roads, Road & Surface Management, Roads, Unpaved Roads by Steve Vitale

Research from the 2020 TRIP report discusses America’s crumbling infrastructure in agriculture and the lack of funding available to repair the network. The rural economy is heavily dependent on what the TRIP report refers to as “goods production.” This includes farming and ranching. The report also covers forestry and fishing, mining and energy extraction, and manufacturing. Agriculture accounts for 11% of earnings in the rural economy compared to only 2% in urban economies. While each segment has its challenges, the agricultural segment best exemplifies the challenge with America’s crumbling infrastructure.

Between 2013 and 2018, the rural poverty rate decreased by 2.4%. Along with increased employment, thanks to these industries, this has contributed to a reversal in the traditional decline in rural populations. This is good news. But failing rural road networks threaten this progress. 

But it’s not just the 60 million Americans who live in rural counties that are affected. Urban economies are tightly linked to rural ones, through many of these industries. Agriculture might just be the best example of these ties. 

For example, while farming only accounts for 6% of all jobs in rural America, for every farming job there is an additional 6 jobs in agribusiness.

Food distribution is the most dispersed segment of the economy. And this segment is more heavily dependent on trucking, and the rural road networks trucks use, than on any other means of transportation. Trucks account for 47% of total ton miles of travel for agricultural products, compared to 37% by rail and 8% by barge. 

A breakdown in rural road networks directly impacts the ability of food products to reach market:

  • Damaged roads have lower weight limits, forcing trucks to find alternative routes, increasing delivery times and shipping costs. 
  • Missed delivery times can cause local food shortages.
  • Increased shipping costs hurt farmers’ already-slim profit margins, thereby impacting operating costs and jobs. 
  • Increased shipping costs also get passed on to end customers in terms of higher food prices. One effect of this is that American food exports have less competitive pricing for the international market. 

Most of America’s 2.2 million farms are in rural locations. Disintegrating rural road networks literally hurt our nation’s ability to feed itself. So how can these failing roads be addressed? 

Addressing America’s Crumbling Infrastructure in Agriculture

The Midwest Unpaved Roads Plan® is the viable solution to downgrade low-volume, paved roads that are in the worst condition, and convert them to gravel roads, then use a comprehensive dust control and road stabilization program. The Unpaved Roads Plan reduces dangerous road conditions while spreading your road management dollars further to maintain more road miles.

Gravel roads have plenty of their own problems, but a proper dust control and road stabilization program from Midwest – the innovation and technology leader – can alleviate many of the problems contributing to America’s crumbling infrastructure:

  • A 95% reduction in dust makes road networks safer and more accessible (by reducing delays caused by dusty conditions) for moving food products while reducing the road surface’s impact on the environment. 
  • By binding dust particles together at the molecular level, Midwest’s proprietary dust control product helps stabilize gravel roads. Road surfaces gain the strength and durability of a paved road, helping them last longer while reducing maintenance. 

Farms feed our nation. Failing rural road networks raise farmers’ costs, increasing the price of food for consumers which is already a national concern. And they impact delivery times, increasing the risk of food shortages. Midwest’s dust control and road stabilization program can help local road agencies better tackle America’s crumbling infrastructure. Learn more about Midwest’s work for and on behalf of rural road dust control and soil stabilization.