Dredging on the Mississippi River in the Port of New Orleans in 2003. (Bill Haber/AP)

I was pleased to read the March 18 news article “A current of worry down the Mississippi .” Commodities from 31 states — or 92 percent of the nation’s agricultural exports and 78 percent of the world’s exports of feed grains and soybeans — leave the United States from the Mississippi River. Today, because of sediment buildup and a lack of dredging where the river empties into the Gulf of Mexico at Southwest Pass, this critical shipping channel is not being maintained at federally authorized dimensions.

New limits on how deep a ship may ride in the river are reducing vessel drafts by at least three feet. This situation may get worse if the channel is not properly dredged, causing delays and other costly inefficiencies. Because of this, we risk other nations importing commodities from South America, where those ports may be up to the task.

We hope Congress and the White House will provide sufficient federal funding to dredge Southwest Pass to ensure it remains deep enough. Failure to do so could result in terrible economic losses that the nation can ill afford.

Paul Aucoin, LaPlace, La.