Farmers claim that the lack of reliability of the U.S waterway system causes a 14% reduction in the prices they get for their grain. This uncertainty, driven by a lock system that is older than its planned 50-year life span, is very real. When a lock fails, the river can be closed 60-90 days backing up freight movements. To compensate while providing reliable service to their customers, large grain buyers, like Cargill, hedge with more expensive rail freight. Something needs to be done to maintain US competitiveness. This requires government action!
But farmers are not the only people impacted by uncertainty. To some extent, we all are carrying more inventory because of uncertainty about vendors or truckers’ delivering what is needed – when it is needed. As we all love the reliability of Amazon and the constant updates they provide, the question is: when will the rest of the world catch up? We see one small corner of this: orders sent to the warehouse that simply won’t fit onto the truck without damage or making the load fail at the scale. To compensate, shippers set order maximums to be smaller than trailer capacity. This was driven home in the last few weeks by clients weighing supposedly full trucks only to find that there was a ton or more of capacity wasted. How much longer can we afford this? Stop waiting and get on this Mr. Shipper!