Drought Hurting Louisiana Ports

With most of the nation in the grips of a serious drought, much of the weather related media attention has been focused on farmers in the Corn Belt. However, by lowering river levels, the drought is damaging more than just crops, but is also making it difficult for farmers to ship their goods to market.

For the past few months, farmers across the country have been caught in an ongoing, and rapidly worsening drought. About two-thirds of the country is experiencing some level of drought, with roughly one-third suffering from severe to extreme drought conditions. The record high temperatures and lack of rainfall are doing significant damage to crops across the country and some farmers are anticipating crop losses of up to 80 percent.

The drought is also harming farmers outside of the drought zones. In Louisiana, which has escaped much of the worst of the drought conditions, the lack of rainfall and dry weather has lowered river levels, making it difficult for farmers to ship their products to market.

Typical Louisiana river barges can carry about 1,500 to 1,600 tons of grain. As river levels fall, it becomes harder and harder for these barges to operate, exposing Louisiana farmers to hundreds of millions of dollars in economic loss.

Louisianan agricultural officials are currently working with the Army Corps of Engineers to dredge low rivers and make it possible for barges to continue shipping grain and agricultural goods to Louisiana ports.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer