Mississippi River Barge Prices Highest In Decade For This Time Of Year As Drought Crisis Worsens

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by Tyler Durden
Sunday, Sep 17, 2023 - 04:15 PM

The Mississippi River, which ferries key commodities and finished goods between the Heartland and the Gulf Coast, is again facing reduced water levels south of St. Louis. This is due to worsening drought conditions in the Midwest, which has increased barge prices. 

According to the US Department of Agriculture's weekly grain transportation report, the latest barge grain rate on the Mississippi River is $28.76 per ton, up 256% since June and the highest since January. 

AP News noted, "Prices [barge prices] have risen because the river south of St. Louis does not remain consistently deep enough now to accommodate typical barges, forcing companies to load less into each vessel and string fewer barges together." 

Souce: Bloomberg 

For this time of year, just before harvest season, barge prices are the highest in a decade and even higher than last year when low water levels on the critical waterway caused logjams of vessels. 

Drought conditions across the Midwest are severe. 

All eyes are on the nation's most crucial waterway as barge prices increase. If the flow of farm goods and other commodities from the Heartland is disrupted, this could have significant implications for customers who rely heavily on US exports. Also, these impacts could lead to higher food inflation due to soaring transportation costs. Earlier this month, Morgan Stanley added El Nino to inflation risks.