Spot barge rates for export grain originating from ports near the Twin Cities (MN) and Mid-Mississippi (a stretch of the Mississippi River that centers around Davenport, IA) have reached yearly highs.
According to the latest USDA Grain Transportation Report, as of July 30, the Mid-Mississippi rate had increased by 14% compared to last week and the Twin Cities’ rate had increased by less than 3%, the previous yearly highs for both.
This week, the rates in the Mid-Mississippi exceeded those in the Twin Cities by over $1 per ton. On average, it costs shippers $5.57 more per ton to ship from the Twin Cities than from the Mid-Mississippi when both stretches of the river are in service.
The inversion of per-ton rates is usually short-lived and has only occurred eight times since 2004.
The current inversion is due to increased demand from shippers in the Mid-Mississippi area and a tight supply of barges from shipping companies as navigation conditions have improved.
See the June 27, 2019 issue of the Grain Transportation Report for a more complete discussion of the effects of recent flooding on barge transportation.