As U.S.A farmers begin the biggest corn and soybean harvests ever, the bins in Illinois remain almost empty because it simply costs too much to send Midwest crops by barge to New Orleans export terminals.
Shipping fees along the Mississippi River, the world’s busiest inland waterway, have more than doubled to a record in the past year. This is due to an increase in demand as new crops compete with oil, coal and chemicals for limited space. The cost surge is more than normal for harvest season, and may stop exports of grain during the busiest time of year.
An emerging logjam of crops is compounding the financial pinch for some Midwest farmers who already are getting the lowest prices since at least 2010, as buyers demand bigger discounts to cover higher shipping costs.