Inland Waterway System Still Struggling with Drought

The conditions along America’s inland waterway system remain concerning. Farmers are harvesting an overall strong crop, but the inland waterway system they use to ship commodities doesn’t have the ability to accommodate large amounts of new grains. It’s especially hard on the soybean industry because September through February accounts for 80 percent of U.S. soybean exports. Because over half of America’s soybeans are exported, barge transportation is essential. American Commercial Barge Lines says depth restrictions of no greater than nine feet have been instituted on the Lower Mississippi River, an almost 30 percent decrease. Barges are often loaded to 11-12 feet this time of year on the Mississippi River south of St. Louis. For every one foot of decreased water depth, that means 5,000 fewer bushels are loaded onto each barge. A maximum of 25 barges can be connected on the lower Mississippi compared to 30-40 barges in typical years.

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