In the News

Updates to locks and dams begin on Upper Mississippi River

May 19, 2023   Brownfield Ag News

View Source

The Army Corps of Engineers started work Thursday on one of seven new lock chambers along the Upper Mississippi and Illinois Rivers that will move ag commodities more efficiently.


Missouri Corn CEO Bradley Schad tells Brownfield the current Lock and Dam #25 in Winfield, Missouri requires barges to be broken down and takes hours to move through.


“With the new lock, barges will go from 2 to 4 hours getting through to 30 minutes,” says Schad.


Illinois corn and soybean farmer Bill Leigh tells Brownfield expanding the lock will provide savings that trickle down to the farmer.


“They say it’s a 1.5 cent per bushel saving per lock. In some areas, that can be substantial dollar wise, about 10 to 12 cents per bushel if you go through the Mississippi and through the Illinois River.”


Leigh says the groundbreaking is cause for celebration.


“The corn growers as an association has been looking forward to this day for 30 years,” he says. “We’ve been the envy of the world with our waterway system. There’s so many places trying to catch up and we’ve needed to do something for quite a while.”


Schad says it will take several years to complete the first new lock chamber, which will move corn, soybeans and other commodities from five Midwestern states (Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota) to the Gulf of Mexico.


Lock and Dam #25 is part of the Navigation and Ecosystem Sustainability Program, funded by the Inflation Reduction Act.


The Soy Transportation Coalition says there are seven new locks being built: five north of St. Louis on the Mississippi River between Illinois and Missouri and two on the Illinois River. The Army Corps of Engineers is expecting all seven to be completed by 2034.


Soy Transportation Coalition’s Executive Director Mike Steenhoek says work on the other new locks don’t have an estimated start date, but the LaGrange lock on the Illinois River is the next in the queue.