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Mississippi River dredging: the difference five feet could make

A port strategy and logistics planner says the scheduled deepening of 64 miles of the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and the Gulf of Mexico is good news for farmers and agriculture.

“You can think of it as bringing the ocean 50 miles closer to the farmer.”

John Vickerman, CEO of Vickerman and Associates, has done the strategic plan for 67 of the 90 ports in North America. He tells Brownfield the US Army Corps of Engineers plans to dredge portions of the Mississippi River five additional feet, allowing larger vessels to come in from the ocean.

“Instead of filling them in the ocean, we can actually mid-stream transfer product. It’s deeper, it’s more effective and we don’t pay the penalties for not having to be able to top off ships in the Mississippi itself.”

Vickerman says the project will begin within the next two years and be done in two phases. Phase one is the deepening of a 30 mile stretch from Plaquemine to Venice and phase two will be 36 miles from Belmont Crossing to Baton Rouge, each lasting about two years.

He says farmers and co-ops need to stay on top of this and educate themselves on the benefits the project could bring to the agriculture industry through the next decade.

Brownfield interviewed Vickerman at the Grain and Feed Association of Illinois’ annual convention.

Interview with John Vickerman

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