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Nationwide Drought Impacting Louisiana Ports, Strain assesses low river levels

July 31, 2012

The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) continues to monitor the low river levels particularly at the Port of Lake Providence in East Carroll Parish which is preventing shipments of grain, including corn and soybeans, from leaving the area. LDAF Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M., is working with local and state officials on enlisting the help of the U.S. Corps of Engineers to dredge the area.
Strain said, “This issue could become disastrous and we need the Corps to focus on this problem. While Louisiana is not experiencing a drought, the rest of the country is. This is a problem for our farmers in the area and the economy. We’re in harvest season and if our farmers can’t get their grain to market, it will impact their livelihood.”
Grain travels from the Port of Lake Providence to the Port of Greater Baton Rouge where it is shipped to the rest of the world. A barge can carry 1,500-1,600 tons of grain. Direct economic losses could potentially be up to $350 million.  
Louisiana agricultural exports totaled $14.25 billion in the first quarter of 2012, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, Foreign Trade Division. “This is why dredging all Louisiana ports is necessary. Louisiana is a major exporter of corn and soybeans among other commodities,” added Strain.

Strain met with Lake Providence Port Director Wyly Gilfoil and emergency managers to discuss possible solutions to this problem. Strain is also meeting and working with state legislators from the area, Senator Francis Thompson, Representative Bubba Chaney, Representative Andy Anders, as well as U.S. Congressman Rodney Alexander.