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AGRIBUSINESS: River Levels Set To Sink

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National Weather Service hydrologists expect Mississippi River levels to continue dropping over the next few weeks; levels are projected to fall to 9 feet by the end of December and to 8.5 feet by January 9, unless there is significant rainfall.

If the depth sinks to less than 9 feet, the Coast Guard will restrict barge traffic further than it already is, with lighter and more frequent loads. Some operators threaten to stop shipping with further restrictions, a move trade groups claim would have repercussions to the tune of several billion dollars.

The Coast Guard doesn't foresee a total closure of the river, but American Waterways Operators President and CEO Tom Allegretti says further restrictions are, for all intents and purposes, identical to closure.

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