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User fees have become a popular means of financing public services, including certain transportation facilities. The Water Resources Development Act of 1986 includes provisions for user fees to finance part of the costs of operations, maintenance, and new construction of the U.S. port system. The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the welfare implications of this legislation. An analytical model is developed and used to estimate the impact of port user fees on grain and oilseed producers, consumers, and the government. The results of the analysis indicate that the user fee has a relatively small effect on producer welfare and that the efficiency gains resulting from the replacement of the government subsidy for port operations, maintenance, and new construction with a user fee are negligible.


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