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Mississippi Barge Backup Stalls Millions of Tons of Cargo

  • More than 2,000 barges are halted by low water levels
  • Shippers already seeing costs rise for rail, truck transport
A towboat pushes barges up the Mississippi River.

A towboat pushes barges up the Mississippi River.

Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg
Updated on

Prolonged drought is jeopardizing waterborne trade along the Mississippi River, a basin that produces 92% of the nation’s agricultural exports.

As of Friday, the river was still closed near Stack Island, Mississippi, and Memphis, Tennessee. That has resulted in a backup of more than 2,000 barges at various points, according to the US Coast Guard. Dredging activities are currently paused, and officials plan to reopen the waterway with restrictions when it has been determined safe to do so.