Hurricane Ida hit the southern U.S. head-on with 150-mile-per-hour sustained winds and did a lot of damage. Behind the storm, shipments of corn and soybeans from the southern ports ground to a halt. Mike Steenhoek is the Executive Director of the Soy Transportation Coalition. He says vessel operations are prohibited along the southern Mississippi River so crews can do significant repair work.
“Number one is many power lines that have collapsed and now are just simply dangling across the Mississippi River, and that’s obviously a safety hazard: that’s a major hazard for navigation on the river. When you have a significant storm like that arrive on an inland waterway, it churns up the shipping channel, and so there’s sediment that can often accumulate in certain pockets of it, so you have to do some survey work as well to determine how deep the channel is, and to what extent can you have the navigation proceed.”
He says the southern Mississippi will likely be closed to shipping for several days. Those southern ports account for 61 percent of soybean exports and 58 percent of corn exports.
“One of the big challenges is just how widespread the power outage has been for the area, and at what point the power can be restored to these facilities? That’s going to be a major barrier to overcome before operations can resume.”
With the southern Mississippi closed right now, multiple ships and barges are backing up on the water and waiting for it to reopen.
“That certainly will be occurring, and for those companies that handle and transport soybeans and grain, a big question that they’re wrestling with right now is do they divert those shipments, what normally goes down to the lower Mississippi River, do they instead put them on a rail car and send them to the Pacific Northwest, at other export facilities or to the Atlantic coast? That’s something that’s certainly occurring, and the big million-dollar question is how long will it take before the Lower Mississippi Rivers back fully operating.”
Export terminals near New Orleans have also been damaged. Market analysts say that this impact from Hurricane Ida is the primary reason behind the recent downturn in the corn and soybean markets.
Source: NAFB News Service