Freight Rates Surge as Mississippi River Water Levels Drop

The Mississippi River’s shrinking water levels have led to a surge in the cost of transporting America’s Midwest harvest to the world.

As of 29 August, barge spot rates in St. Louis are up 42% from last year. On a three-year average, the rate is up 85% over the past three years, according to data recently released by the Department of Agriculture.

The Mississippi River carries more than 45% of US agricultural exports. The decreased water levels have led to a restriction in the amount of grain allowed on each barge, creating a tightening of barge supply, as more ships are required to transport the same amount of grain.

As reported by as the American Commercial Barge Line, some locations are experiencing delays of up to two days, while loading drafts in St. Louis are around 15% below normal capacity.