Low levels on the Panama Canal continue to impact trade

An Indiana farmer says drought in Central America continues to impact global trade.

Carey McKibben recently returned from a trip to the Panama Canal where he and other Indiana farmers got a firsthand look at the issues. “By January, they’re basically cutting the amount of ships going through the canal in half of what normally would be,” he says. “So hopefully in the spring, when the rainy season hits again, that will get some water level up and go back to normal exporting importing of. Products to the U.S.”

He tells Brownfield the lower water levels are slowing down business with some of the largest U.S. trading partners.  “Our biggest importers and exporters are on the western side of South America,” he says.  “Peru, Chile. We send a lot of corn and soybeans that direction and then they also are exporting to us. You know, a lot of fruits, vegetables, and aquaculture.”

2023 was the second driest year in the Canal watershed’s history and the first-year transit restrictions have been a necessity for the Canal. Shippers did get some relief as the canal announced it would increase daily slots available from mid-January to 24, but that will only remain in effect if weather conditions are favorable.

McKibben, along with several other Indiana farmers attended the Soy Transportation Coalition’s annual meeting, and also met with members of the U.S. Meat Export Federation, the USA Poultry and Egg Export Council (USAPEEC), and the U.S. Soy Export Council.

AUDIO: Carey McKibben, Indiana farmer

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