Farmers across the Midwest will be glad to hear this: some grain export facilities in New Orleans are open again — at a reduced level, but it’s a start. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, it was feared agricultural exports from the Port of New Orleans could be shut down for a long time. Commodity broker Dan Kuetchenmeister says it’s great news that some are already back up and running. He says barges are moving on the river and a couple of loading stations are already loading grain. While it’s welcome to hear the facilities are starting to come back on-line, Kuetchenmeister says there are several big hurdles that remain. He says the big issue is that the river system has to be confirmed as “safe” for the deep-draft boats to come in and turn around and leave. Kuetchenmeister says it’s far from business-as-usual but the bottleneck of barges that have been stalled all along the Mississippi River’s banks may soon be able to start moving. He says “It sounds like they think there’s a possibility that within four to seven days they may be to the point where some of these boats can actually make way up and down the river.” Though he adds, it’s certainly going to take a long time to get back to what might be considered normal. U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns ) says current loading and unloading capacity at the port stands at 63-percent.
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