Perfect Storm Along Inland Waterways: No clear end in sight

Shipping challenges are still a reality for producers who need to move commodities to overseas markets.

The National Grain & Feed Association says low inland water levels and the threat of a December rail shutdown have turned the situation into the perfect storm. They say the rail situation is a lot better than it was last spring, but recent levels along the Mississippi River continue to make transporting goods challenging.

“You figure 25 percent of the grain and oil seeds, both commodities are moved by rail, and then you add in almost an equivalent number of cars are moved when you combine flour, biofuels, ethanol, DDGs, and soymeal. It’s a huge impact from both a moving product for export, moving product for processing, moving product for feeding animals, it would be a significant impact very quickly. I mean, we saw the challenges we had earlier in the year. Imagine shutting down basically the whole system,” said Mike Seyfert.

The Association says the best-case scenario would be for all rail unions that voted no to the labor agreement to stay at the table and work out a deal. If unions cannot agree on a labor contract by the second week of December, the Grain and Feed Association is calling on Congress to intervene.

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