Barge grain rates take a dive

St. Louis barge rates for export grain hit their lowest levels since mid-2013, as Brazil continues to undercut pricing for U.S.-grown corn, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported.

As of Nov. 11, those rates had dropped to 230% of tariff ($9.18 per ton), the lowest since July 30, 2013, and 134% below the five-year average, according to USDA’s weekly Grain Transportation Report.

Export barge rates at other locations dropped, in range from 55% to 131% below the five-year average.

“Rates have been on a downward trend as barge operators reported a decrease in demand for barge services,” according to the GTR. “On Nov. 10, the World Agriculture Supply and Demand Estimate (WASDE) reported that ‘U.S. corn export sales and shipments lag well behind last year at this time and U.S. supplies remain uncompetitive in many foreign markets as corn from Brazil continues to undercut U.S. offerings.’”

The WASDE update also predicts global soybean production will hit a record 3.981 billion bu. – both Brazil and the U.S. are boosting output – and projected exports have been increased to 1.715 billion bu. That in time may boost demand for barge services once again, the USDA reported.

During the week ending Nov. 7, inland barge grain movements totaled 788,559 tons, down 11% from the previous week, and down 25% from the same period last year.

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Ashley Herriman

Ashley Herriman is WorkBoat's online editor.

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