More rail and trucks hauling grain to Gulf

Barge availability along the Mississippi River is limited, causing an uptick in trail and rail demand to move grain for export. National Grain and Feed Association CEO Mike Seyfert says the amount of rail carloads from St. Louis to the Mississippi Gulf in mid-October nearly doubled compared to one year ago. Freight rates are higher, too. “On October 18, it cost us $72.58 per ton for barge rates from St. Louis to the Gulf. Last year, it was $31.56 per ton. Around that same time, we were looking at $2,200 per rail car on the secondary market. Last year, it was $150 per rail car,” says Seyfert. “In mid-October, it was $36 per ton for trucking from Davenport, Iowa to Peoria. On the same date last year it was $29 per ton.” Elevators are trying to remain flexible. Seyfert says it’s crucial during an important time of the year for soybean exports. “One member told me they’re not reacting to river conditions on a daily basis, but on an hourly basis.” Every barge that can move down the river is lighter than usual. It takes longer to load an export vessel. Seyfert says that’s one of the biggest challenges for grain elevators. “They’re already moving less product than usual. Then, there’s the uncertainty with river closures due to the drudging.” Seyfert anticipates the Mississippi River challenges to continue through the end of the year.

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