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Drought challenges Iowa farmers - Seeking alternatives for crop sales
Iowa Ag Connection - 09/25/2023

How some smart farmers in Iowa are figuring out cool new ways to sell their corn and soybeans. Why? Because it’s been super dry, and this big river, the Mississippi, is lower than usual.

Our farmer friend tells us that the hot, dry summer has made the corn and soybeans not as plentiful as they hoped. But the corn is still okay. The soybeans, however, are a bit of a tricky situation – they are quite small.

Here’s where it gets interesting. A lot of soybeans from Iowa and neighboring states take a boat ride down the Mississippi River all the way to New Orleans. From there, they hop onto ocean vessels and sail to China, the biggest buyer of U.S. soybeans.

But the river is so low, which means the boats or barges can’t carry as much and that makes the cost of sending crops this way goes up. Mike Steenhoek, who knows a lot about transporting soy, says the rates are much higher than usual.

So, what are the farmers doing? They are getting creative. Instead of sending their beans on barges, they might choose trains to take them to the Pacific Northwest or even to Mexico.

Iowa farmers have some cool options. They can sell their crops to big companies like Cargill or ADM. Some even sell corn to make ethanol, a kind of fuel. If the prices aren’t right, they can store their crops until they get a better deal.

Bob Ryan says they have enough bins to store all their crops. But some younger folks who rent farms might not have that luxury and must sell their crops straight to the town processors.

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