River (Barge) and Great Lakes Research
Below are the main results of recent inland river (barge) and Great Lakes research. To access a summary of an article, click on the bold article title. In cases where an original article is open access (available at no cost), the title in the source is hyperlinked. Wherever a title in a source is not hyperlinked, no open-access article is available.
Source: Isbell, B., A.M. McKenzie, and B. Wade Brorsen. 2020. “The Cost of Forward Contracting in the Mississippi Barge Freight River Market,” Agribusiness: An International Journal 36(2):226-241.
- Grain elevators paid a risk premium to obtain future barge service 3-months out during storage and harvest seasons.
- Barge freight providers paid a risk premium in selling future barge service 3-months out during the growing season.
- Risk premium levels varied by season within a year and location, but there has not been a trend across years.
- Forward contracting may reduce barge transportation costs based on the season and the risk management strategy of the grain elevator and barge freight company.
Source: Wetzstein, B., R. Florax, K. Foster, and J. Binkley. 2019. “Rejuvenating Mississippi River’s Post-Harvest Shipping,” Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy 41(4):723-741.
- There was a significant positive relationship between river levels and barge rates. This finding suggests policies promoting dredging activities or increasing allowable drafts (the height of the barge beneath the waterline) may reduce barge rates.
- Such policies may be of greatest relative importance in the Lower Mississippi Segment.
- Increasing channel depth from 9 feet to 10 feet may reduce barge rates in key segments by 1.6 to 3.5 percent (resulting in a $48 million to $75 million decrease in transportation costs for covered hopper barges).
Source: Pizzey, L., and J. Nolan. 2017. “Pass the Salt: Markets for Grain Shipping on the Great Lakes,” Journal of the Transportation Research Forum 56(2):61-72.
- The saltie freight market for grains originating in the Great Lakes was not cointegrated (i.e., not connected in a statistically significant way) with the oceangoing shipping market for grains originating in the lower St. Lawrence.
USDA-AMS Cooperative Agreement Summaries
For related information, click on the links below to summaries of recent research funded by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service. These cover topics such as the effects of disruptions on the inland waterways and the interplay between barge and rail along the Mississippi River.