Saturday, September 03, 2005

Crop Repercussions

A shipping bottleneck is flowing upstream along the Mississippi River that could cost Midwestern farmers $1 billion, a reporter for the Des Moines Register writes.
"About half of all U.S. grain exports typically travel through New Orleans-area ports, but the percentage is even higher for U.S. corn and soybeans shipped overseas — 62 percent. Most of the grain goes by barge to terminal elevators at the ports, where it is loaded on to ships. Rail cars also carry grain to the coast."
Combined with crop losses suffered directly by Southern farmers due to storm damage, U.S. agricultural losses over the next 60 days likely will top $2 billion.

And that's the optimistic scenario. It that assumes crop "shipments resume within two to four weeks."

If the New Orleans ports cannot be reopened before harvest time, the losses would be far greater. Midwest grain elevators are already nearly full from last year's bumper crop. Larger shipping terminal elevators all the way upstream to Minnesota already are refusing new crop deliveries. If the Port of New Orleans cannot reopen by peak harvest time, in about 8 weeks, farmers around the nation's midsection will have nowhere to store this year's grain.

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