Iowa Farmers Could Feel Impacts of the BP Oil Spill - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Iowa Farmers Could Feel Impacts of the BP Oil Spill

Iowa exports one-third of its corn and soybean produce, according to Iowa State University grain marketing expert Chad Hart. Iowa exports one-third of its corn and soybean produce, according to Iowa State University grain marketing expert Chad Hart.

BERNARD (KWWL) -- Iowa farmers could feel the impact of the BP oil spill if shipping slows out of New Orleans.

While farmers in Iowa have not yet seen an impact in the price or value of their corn and soybean exports, that could change if the Southwest Passage between New Orleans and the Gulf of Mexico became inundated with oil.

Iowa State University grain marketing expert Chad Hart said ships can cut through the oil, but if the substance builds up on a vessel, it would need to be cleaned, slowing down shipping.

"If the oil slick becomes a problem in the shipping lanes, that will slow those shipments down, meaning that we'll be delivering less through the port system," Hart said. "That will back up supplies, even up here into Iowa. And when you have larger supplies in a market, that tends to mean lower prices."

Marge Bergfeld has been farming since her childhood. Now, her own children are carrying on the family trade.

"The corn is supposed to be knee-high by the fourth of July," Bergfeld said.

Though the growing season looks good for farmers, it remains uncertain whether the oil spill will affect grain shipping and - ultimately - lower the value of Iowa farmers' produce.

"We haven't experienced any significant shipping delays here," Hart said. "We're fifty days into this spill. It has not had an impact yet. If we're lucky, it will not have."

Hart said Iowa exports about one-third of its corn and soybean produce.

"Iowa corn can end up anywhere, from Africa to Asia, South America, Europe - coming out of that New Orleans port," Hart said.

Tuesday marked day 50 since the BP rig exploded, causing oil to spew into the ocean. The man overseeing the U.S. government response said this week the cap on the well is now keeping up to 462,000 gallons a day from leaking into the Gulf of Mexico.

Online Reporter Becca Habegger

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