Chamber of Marine Commerce
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St. Lawrence Seaway Moving Bumper Crops

Aug. 8, 2014
After a slow winter start due to ice coverage, total cargo shipped through the St. Lawrence Seaway has rebounded sharply.

Grain movements are leading the way for Canadian cargo traffic, according to the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation. In fact some shippers say this year’s big grain crops and strong global demand have made the St. Lawrence Seaway critical to exporting these volumes from the Prairies as well as Eastern Canada’s inventories without supply chain clogs. Rob Bryson, vice-president of P&H Grain Group, says he’s confident producers will be busy shipping through the next harvest. 

These shipments are already 70% higher than last season, according to St. Lawrence Seaway Management. Canadian grain shipments alone from March 25 to July 31 totaled 3.6 million metric tons. Combined Canada-U.S. grain shipments are up 55 per cent. Other Seaway stats:

  • More than 2500 rail cars of Prairie grain are being unloaded every week at the Port of Thunder Bay. Last year, the weekly average was 939 rail cars; 
  • For the third month in a row, ocean and domestic vessels carried one million metric tons of grain out of the port and through the St. Lawrence Seaway in July;
  • August is expected to be the same. 

“The Great Lakes-Seaway system has always been a strong export route for grain, but this season has really demonstrated that farmers would have been in great difficulty without it,” says Bruce Hodgson, director of market development for St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation. “Marine shipping on the Seaway is preventing huge transportation bottlenecks and we’re looking forward to moving the next harvest this fall.”