Wheat Transportation Profile

America’s farmers depend on transportation as the critical link between the fields of growers and the tables of consumers, both here and abroad. Transportation demand is a derived demand because the production and consumption of an agricultural commodity create the demand for transportation services. As such, it is an essential part of marketing; any change in supply or demand of the underlying commodity or commodities that compete for transportation services can affect the transport system’s efficiency by bringing about either shortages or surpluses in transportation capacity. Freight transportation is a critical element of U.S. agricultural competitiveness in the world grain markets. This report examines transportation implications of the recent trends and outlook for U.S. wheat. •Since the mid-1990’s, U.S. wheat production has remained almost unchanged. The number of acres planted with wheat, however, decreased by almost 20 percent. An increase of over 20 percent in yield has offset the drop in acreage. •Despite unchanged production levels, the United States continues to be a major wheat exporter. Between 2009and 2013, the United States claimed an average 20 percent annually of the world wheat trade. •All three major port regions (the Pacific Northwest (PNW), the Mississippi Gulf, and the Texas Gulf) are used to export wheat. In 2013, 36 percent of wheat was exported through the PNW, 27 percent through the Texas Gulf, and 29 percent through the Mississippi Gulf. •The domestic wheat market is not as dynamic as the export market. Unexpected changes in export demand due to changes in world prices and global annual production levels can pose logistical challenges for U.S. grain shippers and carriers. •According to the February 2014 USDA long-term projections that assume normal growing conditions, U.S. wheat exports are projected to increase slightly, by 1 percent over 10 years, and remain above 1 billion bushels per year. Domestic demand, however, is projected to decrease by 3.5 percent over the next 10 years. •Based on these long-term projections, U.S. wheat exporters will continue to rely on rail service to ship the U.S. wheat to the ports for export, according to the USDA modal share analysis. Domestic demand by the livestock and poultry sectors is serviced by truck and rail.

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 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2018-01-22

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