IFB plans meetings on lock closures

Organizers hope meetings give farmers the chance to prepare for shutdown of Illinois River.

Two Illinois River locks will be closed for repairs this summer. (Illinois Farm Bureau file photo)

By Deana Stroisch

Illinois Farm Bureau will host a series of five meetings this summer to discuss the impacts of the planned closures along the Illinois River.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to close and repair six of the eight locks on the Illinois River in 2020. Most of the construction will be done between July 1 and Oct. 31, 2020, to avoid spring flooding season and fall harvest.

“The Illinois waterway is going to be completely shutdown, which will halt commercial navigation on the river,” said Kirby Wagner, IFB assistant director of transportation and local government. “That means commodities and other products that head down river, won’t be going down the river, and fertilizer and other chemicals and other inputs won’t be coming up river. There’s going to need to be some preparation done so farmers can be ready for the shutdown.”

The construction schedule also calls for a short closure at Starved Rock & Marseilles Lock later this year, and additional closures in 2023 at Dresden Island and Brandon Road.

Representatives from the Army Corps of Engineers will provide meeting participants with an overview of the planned repairs and construction timeline. Wagner said GROWMARK officials will discuss expected transportation shifts caused by the closures.

Most of the meeting, Wagner said, will focus on marketing. Basis, crop storage and futures markets will be among the topics discussed during the two-hour meeting.

Related: Flooding allows crews to work ahead on lock maintenance. Read more here.

IFB has been participating in the lock and dam closure discussions for several years.

“We’re in constant discussion with the Corps and other industry groups to make sure our members’ concerns are addressed, and they remain updated on the closures,” Wagner said.

Save the dates for the following meetings:

- July 12, 9 a.m.; Host: Fulton County Farm Bureau.

- July 25, 8:30 a.m.; Host: Marshall-Putnam Farm Bureau.

- July 26, 10 a.m.; Host: Cass-Morgan Farm Bureau.

- Aug. 5, 10 a.m.; Host: Grundy-Kendall Farm Bureau

- Aug. 6, 10 a.m.; Host: Peoria County Farm Bureau.

Meeting locations will be announced in the coming weeks. Pre-registration with the host county Farm Bureau is encouraged.

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