Great Lakes ag cargo volumes increased

An official with the Great Lakes & St. Lawrence Seaway says it is hard to tell if increased ag product movement on the Great Lakes is because of transportation issues on the Mississippi River.  Peter Hirthe tells Brownfield, “We have been up somewhere between thirty and forty percent on the U.S. ag exports since the beginning of the season. I think we came out of the gate really, really strong in late March and early April and we really haven’t let up.”

And, that means Great Lakes traffic was up before Mississippi River levels became critically low.

Hirthe says fall harvest traffic is about normal. “From upstate New York to Minnesota, we’re seeing a lot of agricultural exports move out of the Great Lakes by vessel, both laker and salty, so it is, it is a very busy time. Traffic is on par with what you would expect this time of year.”

Hirthe says going into October, Great Lakes ag traffic was up 40% year-over-year even though wheat, normally the number one Great Lakes commodity, was down significantly.  “The big movers on the U.S. side are soybeans and corn, and on the Canadian side, it’s similar. It’s more soybeans driving the Canadian side of the lakes with corn slightly up, but in both cases, you’re trying to compensate for a slower start on the wheat side.”

Hirthe says about five times more Canadian grain moves through the Great Lakes than U.S. grain, but there are several port investments being made to make the Great Lakes a viable option for U.S. exporters.

Peter Hirthe discusses agricultural shipping on the Great Lakes & St. Lawrence Seaway with Brownfield’s Larry Lee

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