Mississippi poultry moves through alternate ports
Mississippi State University said that Hurricane Katrina has changed the way that crops are exported from the state.
“Mississippi’s port at Gulfport and the ports at New Orleans and Mobile served as the exit point for much of the state’s crops. Katrina damaged each of these, wiping the Port of Gulfport clear of all its structures and temporarily closing the others. Nearly a year later, all are back in some level of operation, but Gulfport is still in the worst shape of the three,” said a report from the school.
About half Mississippi’s grain exports moved through New Orleans on the Mississippi River and was shipped out from this port. Steve Martin, agricultural economist with Mississippi State, estimated those exports have regained most of their pre-Katrina status.
“Grain shipments were backed up last fall after Katrina hit, so it took longer and cost more money, but shipments still traveled down the Mississippi River to be shipped from New Orleans,” Martin said. “The only real problem was the expense caused by the delay.”
Poultry exporters, however, have had to make major adjustments.
Mike Pepper, president of the Mississippi Poultry Association, said Katrina destroyed refrigerated warehouses at the Port of Gulfport.
Poultry companies coped with the destruction by moving their shipments mostly out of New Orleans, but also using ports from Houston to Jacksonville, Fla. Pepper said the Port of Gulfport intends to rebuild their cold storage facilities.
In May, the Mississippi State Port Authority announced the completion of a 105,000-square-foot warehouse, and the port has said it plans to add almost 300,000 square feet of additional warehouse space by mid-2008.