The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to close a 250-mile stretch of the Mississippi River, perhaps within hours, from Clinton, Iowa, to Clarksville, Missouri. It’ll mean barge traffic will be cut off from reaching ports to the south, including New Orleans, and grain destined for export will be delayed.
Mark Sackmaster, a grain merchandiser in Minnesota, says they’ll have to make due until the river’s reopened, perhaps in two weeks. Sackmaster says: "The impact ten years ago would have been considerably worse than it is now. Now, we’ll see grain going to ethanol plants and rail shippers that it’s actually going to in many cases anyway."
Officials with the Corps of Engineers say the closure of the Mississippi could last longer than two weeks, depending on how much rain falls and how high the river rises. Sackmaster says if the closure is extended well into July, there could be more serious shipping problems.
"Fortunately for us up here in Minnesota and in northern Iowa in particular, there’s enough places to go with your corn and soybeans now should the river shut down for a considerable amount of time. The only lock and dam in the 250-mile stretch of the river that –won’t– be affected is at Keokuk, Iowa, because the gates are high enough that they shouldn’t be affected.