DESHA COUNTY, Ark. (KTHV) - Commodity dealers say the rainfall from Isaac was not enough to restore barge shipments to full capacity.
"We can't get the product out," says James Silvey with Bruce Oakley, a grain facility.
Commodity shippers say water is the least expensive way to ship commodities such as corn and soybeans. They are now having to resort to truck and rail shipments, which they say are far more costly.
It would require 58 semi-trailer trucks to carry the cargo held by just one barge. A barge can carry a bushel of corn from St. Louis to New Orleans for about 30 cents. The same bushel would cost 90 cents to move by train and $1.15 by truck.
"They've been striking ground and it breaks tows..tears barges up, tears boats up," says Alan Evans with Checot-Desha Metropolitan, a shipping port in Desha County.
Evans says low water in the Mississippi River is to blame. He says due to the low waters, they are only able to pack barges to 65 percent capacity.
"I needed to move the beans out immediately, not a month from now," says Ron Miller with Bayou Grains and Chemicals in Ashley County.
At the facility, enough corn to fill two football fields is packed on the ground.
"We had to take corn out of the bends and put it in the bags so we'd have more room for the soybeans," says Miller.
Miller says there are not enough trains or trucks to transport the commodities over land, not to mention the cost.
"The Mississippi River goes out to the Gulf of Mexico which allows us to ship things through the Panama Canal," says Katie McManners with the Arkansas Waterways Commission.
McManners says the Mississippi is a world-renowned resource. She says the Corps of Engineers have done a great job maintaining it, but their resources are limited.
"To address the maintenance back log, it's just going to take money and that comes from the federal level," says McManners.
But those in commodities say the federal government has done the opposite, cutting infrastructure funds each year.
As of late, the Corps of Engineers used federal disaster funds to dredge deeper channels. But it's a quick fix and McManners says to maintain this renowned treasure it needs preventative maintenance.
"We need to be prepared on our inland waterways which is the Mississippi and the Arkansas River and other tributaries that carry commercial navigation to handle those cargos. Otherwise what's coming in through the Panama Canal, there going to go to a different coast."
Arkansas farmers urge residents to contact their local representatives to push for more funds for infrastructure.
Next week, Today's THV talks to Arkansas Agriculture Secretary Bulch Calhoun who is crunching the numbers to determine how the low water levels will affect Arkansans at the grocery store.
Follow Daniel on Twitter @dan_wilkerson.