Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Barges carrying bumper crops delayed because Corps shutting down stretch of Mississippi River

It seems that farmers can't catch a break. Rail delays—blamed on a bad winter, a bumper grain crop, increased competition from oil and coal shipments and an improved economy that is jacking up the amount of consumer goods—led many grain farmers to store crops or risk selling them at lower costs. Now, farmers trying to move supplies via water before cold temperatures shut down waterways are facing a new threat. The U.S. Corps of Engineers is closing a three-mile stretch of the Mississippi River between Memphis, Tenn., and Greenville, Miss., to reinforce a flood-damaged river bank with concrete mats called revetments, Sara Wyant reports for Agri-Pulse, a Washington newsletter.

The Waterways Council said in a statement: “With little proper notice to operators and shippers, the Corps' work performed at this time has impeded transportation on the nation's busiest waterways during the most critical part of this record harvest season," Wyant writes. The Army Corps responded that they had to do the repairs now, while water levels are low.

The National Corn Growers Association "urged the Army Corps to delay its planned mat-laying work along the Mississippi River," Wyant writes. NCGA President Chip Bowling told her, “This comes at a terrible time for U.S. corn farmers. We produced a record crop in 2014, much of which will be transported along the Mississippi River. It is imperative that barge traffic not be impeded and as much grain as possible is transported before winter.”

The Army Corps has been working to help free up space to allow barges to get past but has yet to make a final decision about whether or not to postpone work, Wyant writes. "The agency reported that a northbound 24 barge test tow successfully passed through the widened river section, and 'we understand the urgency to quickly open for larger tows,' the Corps said in their release." (Read more)

No comments: