For the week ending Dec. 15, average diesel fuel prices in the U.S. fell 12 cents from the previous week to $3.42 gal., according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The average price is down 45 cents from the same week last year. Diesel fuel prices have not been this low since January 2011 and such a steep drop in prices has not been seen since November 2008, the USDA said in its weekly Grain Transportation Report released today.

In other news, grain barge tonnages continue to be above average. Through Dec. 15, downbound barge grain tonnages on the locking portion of the river system averaged 951,000 tons per week, 12% higher than the five-year average, the USDA reported. Year-to-date tonnages reached 33.7 million tons, 49% higher than last year and 13% above the five-year average.

During the week ending Dec. 13, barge grain movements totaled 1,048,304 tons. This is 22.8% higher than the previous week and 38% higher than the same period last year, according to the USDA. During the week ending Dec. 13, 665 grain barges moved down river, up 20.7% from last week, and 967 grain barges were unloaded in New Orleans, up 24.5% from the previous week, the USDA said.

Since early December, ice accumulations have halted Mississippi River barge traffic above Dubuque, Iowa (near Lock 11). On Dec. 15, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers closed Lock and Dam 13 at Fulton, Iowa, for

Repairs. The repairs should be completed by March 4, 2015. On Jan. 5, 2015, the Corps will close Lock and Dam 20 at Canton, Mo., for repairs for two months, according to the Corps. During repairs, much of the Upper Mississippi will be closed, but traffic will continue, weather permitting, on the Illinois and Ohio Rivers.