The discovery of a crack in a steel beam in a bridge over the Mississippi River on I-40 in Memphis, Tennessee, earlier this week has snarled barge traffic and caused the halt of more than 700 vessels as officials inspect the bridge to determine repairsRiver Barge necessary to resuming river traffic. As of Wednesday, 47 vessels and 771 barges were stranded on the river; the majority are northbound and normally move things like crude oil, fuel and imported goods like steel. The vast majority of the southbound vessels that comprise just under half of those stranded are carrying corn and soybeans to the New Orleans Port Region before movement to the global grain export market. The river stoppage could become a “big deal” to the already-sky-high grain markets if traffic can’t resume soon, in terms of both grain supplies moving to the marketplace as well as inputs moving upriver. The good news is most fertilizer — a key input that moves up the river each spring to reach farm fields in places like the mid-South and Corn belt — has been delivered. Analysts say they expect repairs to happen and barge movement to resume fairly quickly, making it a “short-term disruption,” though safety officials are being cautious. See more on the situation.