Barge Traffic Slowed by Low River Levels

Oct 6, 2017  | 2 min  | Ep4307

More than a quarter of the corn and soybean crops in the U.S. are already in the bin. Storage on the ground has begun in some places adding to the headaches already faced by grain elevators.

This week, there was one more hurdle thrown onto the superhighway to the end user.

John Torpy ( has the details. 

Prior to recent rains, Mother Nature brought long stretches of sunshine to the Midwest. This has helped ready crops for harvest, but made for lower river levels on the Inland Waterway System, slowing barge traffic carrying this year's harvest.
With a reduce draft, grain shipping terminals are prevented from loading barges to full capacity, increasing transportation costs and creating congestion during what is traditionally a busy time on Midwestern waterways. Transportation setbacks, in turn, have put pressure on elevator operators who are now scrambling for storage. The result has been, in some cases, an addition to the basis farmer’s face when they sell their grain.
Lower water levels are a cause of some concern for port operators in the Gulf of Mexico. 
Paul Aucoin, Executive Director, Port of South Louisiana: “and we become un-competitive and unreliable and that goes – that hurts our farmers. And when you become uncompetitive and unreliable, they’ll go someplace else. These countries that are buying our grain will find another place to buy it that’s more reliable and more competitive." 

Mechanical issues also have added to delays in moving this year’s harvest. On the Ohio River, Lock and Dam 53 was closed early in the week to make emergency repairs. Even though the work was completed in short order, the delay backed-up barges for more than 30 miles. The traffic jam took several days to sort itself out.
For Market to Market, I’m John Torpy 

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