Nineteen U.S. agricultural associations have sent a letter to President Obama urging him to use his authority to maintain navigation on the Mississippi River between St. Louis and Cairo, Ill., currently threatened by low water levels.
The letter specifically asks the president to declare an emergency, under Section 501(b) of the Stafford Act, to enable the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to release water from Missouri River dams and remove rock pinnacles near Grand Tower and Thebes, Ill., in order to keep the nine-foot navigation channel on the Mississippi open.
The request laid out potential damage to the agricultural industry, as well as consumers, if steps are not taken to remedy the situation. The letter stressed in particular that barge transportation in the next few months is critical to secure supplies, such as fertilizer, for the 2013 planting season; market the 2012 grain and oilseed crop, and provide low-cost access to domestic and international markets for U.S. farmers.
The barge industry also recently urged the president to take action on this issue.