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Grain leading rising seaway shipping

The St. Lawrence Seaway has reported total shipments are up four per cent so far this season

Great Lakes shippers were on the water this spring as soon as the ice allowed them to.

With the new crop harvest underway, the laker ships are still working hard moving last year’s harvest.

Canada’s eastern shipping option saw grain shipments rise by 13 per cent, totalling 4.3 million metric tons, between March 29 and August 31.

“Great Lakes-seaway ships are helping clear out the huge western Canadian grain harvest still left over from last year and responding to the increased demand from European markets for Ontario corn,” said Terence Bowles, president and CEO of The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation.

He noted the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System remains a key national transportation and trade corridor for the agriculture industry, accounting for 27 per cent of all Canadian grain exporters shipped out on bulk vessel during the 2017-18 crop year.

Canadian ports throughout the region are seeing the effects of the demand for grain.

The Port of Johnstown, south of Ottawa, has received and shipped 190,000 metric tons of soybeans, corn and wheat from the region’s farmers through its terminal so far this year. Ships have transported 50,000 metric tons of that grain to export markets.

Hamilton Port Authority’s total year-to-date tonnage was up 17 per cent from a year ago thanks to grain, fertilizer and petroleum products. Year-to-August grain exports were up 115 per cent compared to the same period last year.

The Port of Thunder Bay also continues to see large shipments of grain this summer, but August brought increases in coal, potash and general cargo compared to August 2017.

“At this point we are forecasting a strong finish to the season led by grain shipments,” says Tim Heney, president and CEO of the Thunder Bay Port Authority.

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