Spot barge rates for export grain originating from ports near Minneapolis-St. Paul and the mid-Mississippi River (a stretch of the Mississippi that centers around Davenport, Iowa) have reached yearly highs, the US. Department of Agriculture reported today.

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, the USDA reported today in it's weekly Grain Transportation Report (GTR). This week, 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, GTR said. 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, the GTR reported.

For the week ending July 27, barge grain movements totaled 784,596 tons,  a 1.5% increase from the previous week and 13% less than the same period last year, the USDA reported.