For the week of Jan. 10, the barge rate near St. Louis was 541% above tariff ($21.59/ton), down 25% from last week and down 20% from the same week last year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said today.

This was the first time since the week of Sept. 9, 2022, that the barge rate was below its same period last year. The current barge rate is 80% lower than the all-time peak of 2,653% above tariff ($105.85/ton) during the week of Oct. 11, 2022, the USDA said in its weekly Grain Transportation Report released today.

The three-month forward barge rate dropped 7% from last week to 422% above tariff ($16.84/ton), but remains 35% higher than last year, the GTR said. 

The falling rates reflect improved navigation conditions on the Mississippi River System (MSR). Increased precipitation on portions of the river, the completion of harvest, and increased draft sizes (in most places) have all helped to normalize the system, the GTR said.