Grain Needs To Move: Will Congress step in to ease shipment hurdles along the Mississippi?

The nation’s largest ag cooperative says that low water levels along the Mississippi River are still hurting operations.

Officials at CHS say that they are lightening loads to combat the low levels, but it is hurting progress.
The CEO says that the window for moving foods is starting to close because barges are not being shipped up river, for fear of them getting stuck. They say a potential rail strike would further complicate the situation as the company needs to move grain and ag inputs through the winter.

As the deadline for the “cooling off” period approaches for the railways and labor unions, some grain is actually being switched to rail transport from the river.

Trillions of pounds of shipments have been shifted in an effort to lighten barges traveling down the shallow Mississippi.
Grain cargoes by rail were up 4 percent last week from the same time in 2021, and they are running 6 percent above the three-year average. Every day it is looking more like Congress will need to step in.

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley expressed his frustration in the lack of progress made over the last couple months.

“Whenever this cooling off period ends and there’s not an agreement, Congress should act like we did in the early 1990s. And like we were prepared to act late September but didn’t have to because the President stepped in and got everybody and agreed to keep working. I thought that was the end of it. It’s obviously not the end of it. So, we’re right back where we were in September,” Grassley explains.

Earlier this week the White House said a rail shutdown is unacceptable, but the Press Secretary continued to push for negotiations between companies and unions to get the situation resolved.