Buchanan County farmer Jason Gregory told members of the U.S. House Committee on Small Business today the protection of lives and infrastructure should be a high priority in managing the Missouri River. The committee, chaired by U.S. Rep. Sam Graves of Tarkio, held the field hearing on managing the Missouri River at the St. Joseph City Hall. Gregory of Hemple, and Lanny Frakes of Rushville were two other Missouri farmers testifying at the hearing. Testifying on behalf of Farm Bureau, Gregory said the system of levees constructed over the past several decades will continue to do its job given funding to maintain them. “While you aren’t likely to read this in a paper or hear it on the news, construction of the main stem reservoirs and implementation of the Bank Stabilization and Navigation Program are a success story,” he said. “Over the 1938-2001 period, estimated accumulated flood control damages prevented by the system are $24.8 billion.” Gregory serves on the Buchanan County Farm Bureau board of directors and Missouri Farm Bureau’s Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee. The row crop and cattle farmer said passage of the Water Resources Development Act is critical to the future of our inland waterway system. “Other nations understand the concept of competitive advantage and are moving quickly to upgrade ports and waterways. We need to modernize our locks and dams and provide shippers with assurance navigation channels on the Mississippi, Missouri and other rivers are reliable.” Another point brought out in Gregory’s testimony was that the U.S. Corps of Engineers’ spring rise should be shelved permanently. Scientific studies have not been able to prove man-made increases in water flow improve spawning of the endangered pallid sturgeon fish.