A long stretch of hot, dry weather has left the Mississippi River so low that barge companies are reducing their loads just as Midwest farmers are preparing to harvest crops and send tons of corn and soybeans downriver to the Gulf of Mexico.
The transport restrictions are a headache for barge companies, but even more worrisome for thousands of farmers who have watched drought scorch their fields for much of the summer. Now they will face higher prices to transport what remains of their crops.
Farmer Bruce Peterson, who grows corn and soybeans in southeastern Minnesota, chuckled wryly that the dry weather had withered his family’s crop so extensively they won’t need to worry so much about the high cost of transporting the goods downriver.
“We haven’t had rain here for several weeks so our crop size is shrinking,” Peterson said. “Unfortunately, that has taken care of part of the issue.”