Low Mississippi River spells trouble for farmers


An exceptional, long-term drought has translated into a troublesome year for The Mississippi River has dropped two feet in the last week, making it incredibly difficult for barges to navigate.

When transportation gets threatened, you start to see that cost increase--a case of supply and demand.

Most of the products in our cabinets have floated on the river at one point.

"They don't really realize how many products that they touch at home everyday that's maybe been on a barge. It could be down to the cornflakes in the box in their cabinet. It could be a number of petroleum products, when they go to fill their car up."

Mark Wade says the river rose briefly thanks to Hurricane Sandy, but the water level has dropped to a half-foot since then.

The Mississippi River is fed by the Missouri and Ohio, and they are already below federal regulations.

To make matters worse, the busy season is rapidly approaching for the Pemiscot County Port Authority.

"It's like a traffic jam in places, where they have to really slow down. The current's very strong in there, but it's not very wide. They're having to wait on boats coming downstream, if they're going upstream. They're also not able to push as many barges as they normally would."

It's a problem that could only worsen if the river drops another foot.

"You could be looking at some very big problems, if running across a bar. If they happen to hit something and take on water, it can be very expensive."

Yet, the sound of 18-wheeler engines drone into the night in an effort to get every last grain on the barge.

As 2012 draws to a close with a 12" rainfall deficit, there's one thing Wade says they need.

"Rain. Lots and lots of rain. Not necessarily right here. We need it up north. What we really need is a good snow pack up north like we traditionally have."

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