Mississippi River Barges Still Backed Up by Hurricanes' Aftermath

OCTOBER 27, 2005 - Posted at 7:58 a.m. CDT

WASHINGTON - Hurricanes Katrina and Rita are causing expensive headaches for farmers hundreds of miles from the Gulf Coast.

Barges on the Mississippi River carry most of the corn, soybeans and grain being shipped for export.

But hundreds of loaded barges are still waiting to be unloaded in New Orleans, where the hurricanes damaged port facilities and scattered the work force.  Some of the crops on the barges are rotting.

Agriculture Department officials told a House committee yesterday they're making progress, with southern ports now operating at about two-thirds capacity.

Committee members urged the agency to put more money into unloading the barges.  Those barges are also needed upriver, to carry more crops back down the Mississippi River.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)