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River Freight Cost Pressuring Grain Prices

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Delays along the Mississippi and Ohio rivers are causing a backlog for grain shippers. The St Louis Post-Dispatch says low river levels and back-ups at aging locks have slowed navigation on the Mississippi and its tributaries, driving up the cost of hauling Midwestern crops to Gulf Coast export terminals to near-record highs. Grain storage along the Mississippi river is filling up quickly, and cash premiums on soybeans at river terminals have dropped to the lowest level since 2011 amid ample available supplies. As newly harvested supplies reach the market, elevators with barges on hand are prioritizing loading soybeans while storing corn if they have space. Shippers also have to load less grain onto barges because of the low river levels. Earlier this week, the closure of an aging lock along the Ohio river created a line of 65 towboats waiting to pass.

The grain handling woes come as farmers are beginning to harvest bumper corn and soybean crops amid weakening prices, with soybean stocks at a decade high and corn supplies at the biggest in nearly 30 years.

Source: NAFB News Service