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Farm Progress America, September 29, 2023Farm Progress America, September 29, 2023

Mike Pearson tells us how barge traffic is slowing in the Mississippi River and freight rates are skyrocketing.

September 29, 2023

Mike Pearson examines the state of the Mississippi River.

Due to the decreasing volume, barge traffic is slowing and freight rates are increasing.

The most utilized river in the country does so much for so many people.

However, the choke point for grains that needs to be pushed up the river to be transported overseas.

The good news is that elevators are empty and most producers have empty bins so that is helping the traffic because the river is not operating at full speed. If the bins fill up fast and the elevators for barges fill up or the river is closed for awhile then big problems could erupt for farm business.

For barge operators, there are two big challenges. First of all, the barges are being loaded lighter due to the reduced level of the river. Another challenge is that if the water levels continue to decline, then the channels will get smaller and there will be less barges on the river. And the final challenge for operators right now is that costs are up 91 percent to ship a ton of grain out of Memphis, Tenn.

Right now, the river is only four feet above the minimum operating depth and the only solution is precipitation.Farm Progress America is a daily look at key issues in agriculture. It is produced and presented by Mike Pearson, farm broadcaster and host of This Week in Agribusiness.

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