The idea of barges shipping products up and down the Mississippi River to-and-from Michigan depends on changing the law to allow those river barges on the big Lake. 

The US Coast Guard is taking  public comment on that idea now. 

The Michigan Agri-Business Association is solidly behind the idea, as long as it can be done safely.

Those River Barges are smaller with less freeboard above the waterline than the bigger Lake Barges. 

Argi-Business Director Jim Byrum tells WOOD Radio "changing the paradigm" of connecting West Michigan to the Mississippi River would benefit several industries, if strings of those barges were to come as far around the big lake as Muskegeon.

He said he originally was thinking of a more direct route for fertilizer to Michigan farmers, but some have talked of shipping out their crops in that manner.  And other industries, notably wood and furniture manufacturers, have indicated their support, as well.

Byrum says the more commercial cargo going through West Michigan ports, the more federal subsidies they will get for dredging, which means the more easily recreational boaters can get out to Lake Michigan to chase the trout and salmon.

The Coast Guard is taking comment on the proposal until August 25th.