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Aerial view of the Dali cargo vessel which crashed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge, causing it to collapse in Baltimore, Maryland, U.S., March 26, 2024. Photograph: Maryland National Guard/Handout via REUTERS.

In the early hours of March 26, 2024, the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, MD was struck by a cargo ship and collapsed, blocking boat access to the Port of Baltimore. It is currently unknown how long the blockage will last and the severity of the situation for industries reliant on the port.

Maryland state police have shared that as of early Thursday morning four people are missing and presumed dead, two have been recovered, and two were rescued, one unharmed and one critically injured. Maryland Transportation Authority was able to begin to stop traffic thanks to a mayday warning sent from the ship but was unable to notify the construction workers on the bridge in time.

The Port of Baltimore said that vessel traffic would be suspended until further notice, but trucks would still be processed in its terminals. All ships will have to reroute to nearby ports. The Key Bridge was the only bridge in the area approved for hauling of certain hazardous materials, so major rerouting for shipping of those products must be done. According to Simona Stan, a supply chain and logistics expert, in a conversation with The Conversation, the loss of maritime traffic is expected to cost $9 million a day. She also added that with so much pressure on shipping to the East Coast from attacks in the Red Sea, Panama Canal bottlenecks, and now a major port closure, more shipments are likely to move to West Coast ports causing an uptick in shipping costs and time.

With over $80 billion in import traffic just last year, the Port of Baltimore is one of the largest on the East Coast. It ranks 29th in the U.S. for export of ag products and 6th in fertilizer imports. In 2023, this port was the top U.S. port for automobiles, farming and construction machinery, and imported gypsum, a mineral commonly used in fertilizer and construction material, according to the port.

“The tragic accident on Tuesday involving Maryland’s Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore will impact agriculture. The Port of Baltimore exports grains such as soybeans and wheat, some of which come from Delmarva. Other products, such as fertilizers and farm equipment, are imported through the Port of Baltimore,” said Secretary of Agriculture Michael T. Scuse. “There is the possibility of declining prices for grain products and increasing costs on imported products until companies reach agreements to use other ports, such as Delaware’s Port Wilmington.”

About 351,000 metric tons of fertilizer was moved through the port last year, mostly urea ammonium nitrate, UAN, coming from Russia, but also urea and potash said Arlan Suderman of Stone X. He added that an early spring has led to an earlier demand for fertilizer, but the upcoming cold front could delay the demand helping with this added stress on supply.

Don Clifton, Delaware Farm Bureau (DEFB) Executive Director, shared information on the port closure on The Jim Weller Show, “It has real ramifications in terms of our supply of fertilizers that are shipped in on cargo ships to the Port of Baltimore.” He later said that the fertilizer needed for planting is currently in storage at suppliers which will likely get us through May. A transportation premium is likely to show up in farmers’ invoices, especially if a long-term delay causes a need for shipment from Philadelphia, PA or Chesapeake, VA. Clifton told Weller, “On Monday, there were virtually no trucks lined up to be loaded with nitrogen fertilizer to bring to Delaware, but today there are 40 trucks lined up and they won’t load them…most likely due to the uncertainty of incoming supply.”

Delaware Farm Bureau’s thoughts are with everyone involved and their families. This is a tragic event both emotionally and economically. DEFB will be monitoring this situation closely to see how it will affect Delaware Agriculture.

For more information on the Delaware Farm Bureau, visit

Post Author: Jaiden Cain

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