Low Mississippi River levels impact barges, farmers

Low Mississippi River levels
Published: Sep. 18, 2023 at 5:16 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 18, 2023 at 6:20 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KFVS) - The Mississippi River is a bit lower than usual, measuring just under 5.5 feet in Cape Girardeau.

Federal climate experts say you can blame hot and dry conditions over the summer for the low levels. Because these water levels are so low, barges are beginning to reduce how much they carry.

And as harvest season begins, it’s starting to cause issues for farmers.

“They have fallen down to the point that the barge lines are started to restrict drafts on their barges,” said Adam Thomas, commercial director for SEMO Milling in Scott City.

Thomas said things aren’t looking great for farmers right now.

Take a look at the low water level on the Mississippi River as of Monday, September 18.

Barges aren’t holding as much of their product, but the cost to get that barge down the river is the same.

“If it cost more in freight to get it to the destination where the shippers on the river are going to send it, it is no longer worth as much money to them therefore it ends up being worth less to the farmer.”

And that has farmers making adjustments.

“You’re gonna see a lot of producers try to put that grain into storage and grain bins and get past this current scenario. Unfortunately, they cannot hold their whole crop so some of that product is going to have to come to market and those are the bushels that are most at risk.”

Meanwhile, Thomas said everyone is hoping for one thing during this time, rain.

“We are all looking for rain up north to raise these river levels so that we can stabilize and rebound that bases as the farmers try to move that crop.”