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Illinois Farmers Feel The Mississippi River Pinch

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Mature corn (Zea mays) in Illinois fields stretch to the horizon on both sides of a rural, dirt road. Illinois is the country's second largest grower of corn, trailing only Iowa in total production. (Getty Images Bruce Leighty)

Mature corn (Zea mays) in Illinois fields stretch to the horizon on both sides of a rural, dirt road. Illinois is the country’s second largest grower of corn, trailing only Iowa in total production. (Getty Images Bruce Leighty)

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ST. LOUIS (IRN) - Illinois farmers are feeling the pinch from low water in the Mississippi River.

The capacity of barges and the number of barges in tow are down, cutting tonnage by 45 percent, while the cost of fuel, personnel and time is the same. This means farmers whose corn moves on the Mississippi are getting squeezed by $1 a bushel due to the higher per-bushel transportation costs, says Rodney Weinzierl, head of the Illinois Corn Growers Association.

“If you’re a farmer in the Saint Clair or Monroe County area, or in other areas of Southwestern Illinois, your corn price is $1 less than if you’re over in Gallatin County or Richland County, Ill., where generally your corn is moving in the direction of the Ohio River,” he said.

Barge tows that normally draw 12 feet are now being light-loaded to draw eight feet, and the tows, typically 18 barges, are now down to 15 because of the low level between St. Louis and Cairo.

Weinzierl says farmers can hold onto their corn and hope for better river conditions in the coming months.

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