Water levels on the Mississippi River Basin are at their lowest point in more than a decade, and this combined with dredging shuttered barge traffic heading north and south on the Mississippi last week. At one point, more than 100 towboats and 2,000 barges were stuck waiting. The Mississippi River is the main artery for US crop exports, with 60% of all grain exported from the US shipped along the river through New Orleans and the Port of South Louisiana, and supports 35% of US coal exports. Major barge lines on the river are turning away spot business as they struggle to meet demand for grains, metals and other raw materials already contracted well in advance. Each reduced foot of water depth results in 150-200 fewer short tons loaded per barge, and shipping rates are soaring. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the cost of moving grain via barge from St. Louis was 218% higher year over year during the week of Oct. 4. Shipments from Cincinnati and Louisville, Kentucky, popped by 196% over the same time period.