Low Mississippi River levels starting to impact some Mississippi farmers

Published: Sep. 18, 2023 at 7:53 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) -We’re not the only ones dealing with a drought. Dry conditions in northern states are leading to a repeat of last year’s low Mississippi River levels. That means problems for farmers and eventually you.

You may remember images of the low Mississippi River last year. It’s not gotten that low in Mississippi yet this year. But without the higher levels from northern states, farmers like John Aguzzi are already back to the drawing board right as harvest season hits.

“Some of the facilities are not able to load any barges at all,” explained John Aguzzi, who has a farm around Cleveland, Mississippi. “The river is too shallow under this loading dock. So they can only take in grain that they’ve already bought. It’s been booked because they’re going in their bins, and they have to save enough room for those beans that are already committed. So, they’re not buying any more right now. And you can’t bring it into them.”

Aguzzi says some spots are still loading, but they can’t fill the barges. He’s forced to hold on to some of his crop.

“I’m lucky I do have some grain bin to hold some of the grain,” noted Aguzzi. “Some people don’t have any. But I don’t think any of us have enough to hold all the crop of rice and all the crop of soybeans.”

The forecast isn’t looking promising, according to Agriculture Commissioner Andy Gipson.

“The effect of this is going to be, unfortunately, it appears that the Mississippi River is going to dry up once again, like it did last year, to historically low levels,” said Commissioner Gipson.

And these problems plaguing farmers could eventually impact you and your wallet.

“I mean, we were transporting all of them down the river. We’re transporting fertilizer, feed, a lot of inputs, chemicals that go into everyday processes that people rely on,” Gipson added. “So, anytime the Mississippi River flow is interrupted, the commerce along that river is going to impact people nationwide, not just here in Mississippi.”

That could mean disruptions in the supply chain for products you depend on, and if things don’t change, prices at the stores could end up rising.

From the farmers we spoke with, it seems ports in the northern part of the state like Rosedale are already feeling the impacts of the low river. Those delivering to Vicksburg have not yet had any problems.

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