The importance of the Mississippi River to agriculture is difficult to understate, with $52 billion in grain and other farmed goods produced in its watershed annually. Allowing the movement of 125 million tons of commodities in 2008, the most recent year for which data is available, failure to repair and improve river infrastructure would likely jeopardize the movement of those commodities to market.
Southbound barges on the Mississippi River carry grain destined for world markets. Those barges regularly pass northbound tows with thousands of tons of fertilizer heading to Midwestern ports and, later, to farmers' fields. With shipping on the Mississippi already impeded and the problem likely to worsen, fertilizer shipments for the 2013 spring planting season could face delays.