Less rain created shipping issues on the Mississippi River

The lack of precipitation in parts of the U.S. has created a problem for shipping agricultural commodities.

Mike Steenhoek with the Soy Transportation Coalition tells Brownfield less rain means less water flowing in America’s inland waterway system…forcing shippers to put less cargo in barges. “There’s this concern that if you load it to a full capacity, it’s going to scrape the bottom of the channel, and we’ve already had a number of groundings already.”

Steenhoek says less water in the lower Mississippi River not only means a shallow shipping channel, it also makes that channel narrower. “So what that means is you actually have to reduce the number of barges you’re lashing together to move as one unit.”

Steenhoek says loading barges so they float with one less foot of water cuts 75-thousand bushels from each fifteen-barge tow. “You have this given amount of freight that farmers are harvesting, when all of the sudden if you’re getting 75,000 fewer bushels per trip, you’re going to have to turn those barges more frequently, and that just adds additional costs.”

Steenhoek says the problems are downstream from St. Louis to New Orleans where there are no locks and dams to help regulate the navigation channel.

Mike Steenhoek with the Soy Transportation Coalition discusses low river levels and the impact on shipping with Brownfield’s Larry Lee

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