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Low Mississippi River Levels Could Rise Prices on Food And Fuel

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 18 Jul 2012 04:14pm | comments
Low levels on the Mississippi river. Photo Credit: Daniel Cherry

The slowly dropping level of the Mississippi River is raising concerns among shippers who rely on the vital inland waterway. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports that a slowdown in commercial shipping could impact the price of everything from food to fuel.

With drought conditions across much of the U-S, the Mississippi river is at very low levels and expected to continue dropping.

Robbie Burt with the Mississippi Department of Transportation says dredging is underway to keep Mississippi's ports open to the river.

"They are located off the river. So when the river gets low, they are not deep anyway to begin with. So anytime the river does drop that like it limits the barges that can come in and out of the port," Burt said.

Millions of tons of goods travel the river and the low levels have already slowed commercial shipping traffic, limited access on parts of the river, and forced companies to lighten the load on barges.

Roger Harris, who runs Magnolia Marine Transport in Vicksburg, says that could cause prices and many products to rise.

"We push crude oil, the raw product that goes into a refinery. The refinery produces the gasoline. With the cost of their raw product being more to get to the facility, to the refinery, the cost of the gasoline would reflect that to the consumer," Harris said.

The same could be true for crops as Mississippi farmers bringing in the harvest find the cost of shipping increased.

Without substantial rainfall, the river is expected to drop to 10 feet in August and continue falling through September.

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Low levels on the Mississippi river. Photo Credit: Daniel Cherry


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