LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - Low water levels threatened the livelihood of many farmers near the Mississippi this summer. Mayors from many of these towns joined forces Thursday in St. Louis to protect their ports.
Osceola Mayor Dickie Kennemore is the only representative from Arkansas, but he will play a big role in this initiative. Kennemore will serve on the executive board of the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative. Before Hurricane Isaac brought limited relief, the Osceola Port shut down because of low water levels. Mayor Kennemore says the impact always falls down on the farmer.
Summer held little back as the scorching sun, pounded much of the midwest and south. One of the larger victims was the mighty Mississippi.
Low water levels created higher freight fees and took money out of the pockets of farmers. Osceola Mayor, Dickie Kennemore, spent Thursday in St. Louis, joining more than 40 other mayors hoping to lobby for the river.
"To us, the river in our area and in particular Northeast Arkansas is a very vital and transportation commodity lines for our farmers," says Kennemore.
Mayor Kennemore says before Hurricane Isaac brought relief, Osceola's port shut down for three weeks because of low water levels and no help from the Core of Engineers because of budget cuts.
"We have a slack water harbor that ships out about a million tons of grain annually and that harbor was shut down," says Kennemore.
Osceola is just a portion of a major economic ripple that hurt many farmers this summer.
"That economic impact spreads out all over Northeast Arkansas. We have grains that are shipped out as far away as Newport, as far North as the Missouri state line and as a probably West Memphis and that area," says Kennemore.
Kennemore will serve on the executive board of the group and hopes to make concerns known to the powers that be in Washington.
"Our farmers are the biggest industry we have. We have a lot of industry in Mississippi County, but our biggest industry is still farming in Northeast Arkansas," says Kennemore.
Kennemore says once the November elections are finished and all is settled in D.C. the group plans to visit the capitol next spring to lobby for funding along the river for more dredging.