Volume of Maritime Freight in the MAFC Region

From a national and international perspective, the role of MAFC’s maritime shipping is often overshadowed by the role of international maritime trade flowing through oceanic coastal ports. As shown in Table 1, MAFC states account for little of the nation’s direct foreign trade (4 percent of US export tonnage; 2 percent of US import tonnage). Direct foreign maritime trade between MAFC states and other countries only happens in the Great Lakes. In dollar value terms, MAFC states account for even less due to the fact that most export products are lower value-per-ton commodities (grain, coal, etc.) than the value added containerized freight shipped to and from coastal ports. MAFC’s overall share of total US maritime freight is also small at 14 percent.

In contrast to foreign trade, MAFC states account for a substantial portion of the nation’s domestic maritime freight movement, responsible for shipping 41 percent of total domestic tonnage and receiving 29 percent. The data also mask the MAFC region’s contribution to US agricultural exports. hipments from MAFC waterways to the Louisiana deep-water ports categorized as “domestic” are ultimately trans-loaded to ocean going vessels for foreign export.

Table 1: MAFC Share of US Waterborne Commerce (2010)

State Total Tonnage (millions of tons) Domestic Foreign
Shipped Received Within State (millions of tons) Share Domestic (%) Exports Imports Share Foreign (%)
Subtotal MAFC States 318,039 128,993 89,833 60,553 88% 22,906 15,755 12%
Total US (and Territories) 2,334,397 310,832 310,830 271,796 38% 557,842 883,097 62%
MAFC Share of US Total 14% 41% 29% 22% 4% 2%

Source: CY 2010 Waterborne Tonnage by State in Units of 1000 Tons

Table 2 summarizes the total MAFC Region maritime freight tonnage shipped by category (intrastate trade, interstate trade between MAFC states, trade between MAFC and other states, MAFC foreign trade). Table 3 the top commodity categories by total tonnage handled (shipped and/or received by ports in the MAFC region.

Table 4 summarizes maritime shipping by individual MAFC state. Appendix D and Appendix E provide additional details about dominant commodities for individual MAFC states. Intrastate shipping is freight movement that originates and is received within the same state. Commodity movements that originate and end within a MAFC state (intrastate) or between two MAFC states (interstate) is handled twice and therefore double counted.

Locally produced mineral commodities dominate intrastate shipping. Coal dominates internal shipping in Kentucky, Illinois, and Ohio. Shipment of sand gravel and other aggregates is common to most maritime states, and limestone from Michigan accounts for much of the total in that category.

Regional interstate shipping is dominated by coal and iron. Coal from eastern states, MAFC states, and western states is shipped by river and the Great Lakes. Kentucky and Illinois are major coal producers and some eastern coal is loaded onto barges at MAFC ports. A significant amount of coal from western states (Wyoming, Montana) is moved by rail to the port of Duluth-Superior where it is loaded on ships for distribution throughout the Great Lakes.

Iron ore mining and steel production account for a significant share of shipping on the Great Lakes. Iron ore in mined near ports on Lake Superior and shipped to industrial centers on the other lakes for steel production. Limestone is quarried in Michigan and elsewhere and shipped to both mines and steel factories. Limestone is also used throughout the region in cement production and other uses. As noted earlier, western coal is the primary source of energy for steel production.

Movement of other non-metallic crude materials: primary manufactures such as pig iron and concrete, fertilizers and other chemicals, and petroleum products constitute the majority of the remaining regional maritime trade. Crude petroleum from North Dakota shale and Alberta tar sands are moved by pipeline and rail to Great Lakes ports such as Duluth-Superior for shipment to refineries elsewhere.

Total maritime trade between the MAFC region and the rest of the United States is also significant. Coal shipped from coal-producing states in the Ohio River basin is shipped to states throughout the MRS and to Louisiana deep-water ports for export. Corn, soybeans, and other crops are shipped to states of the lower Mississippi River and Gulf of Mexico mostly for export but some for domestic production of livestock, poultry, and other products. Of the 198 million tons of maritime freight shipped between MAFC and the rest of the United States in 2010, coal and crops constituted 33 percent and 29 percent of the total, respectively. Sand and gravel used in construction, salt, petroleum and petroleum-based products, and chemicals (both fertilizers vital to Midwest agriculture and non-fertilizers) constituted most of the remainder of domestically shipped commodities.

Direct foreign maritime trade comprised the smallest category of maritime trade in the MAFC region because such trade is limited to ports in the Great Lakes. Iron ore, limestone, and coal are exported to Canada, while most food exports are shipped to other parts of the world.

Not reflected in these tables is the level of trade between states outside of MAFC that rely on the river system infrastructure located in the MAFC region. For example, some coal loaded on barges in West Virginia is bound for the Lower Mississippi and some chemical and petroleum products are shipped to eastern states. Maintenance of maritime infrastructure in the MAFC region is vital to the inland waterway network as a whole.

Table 2: MAFC Maritime Trade by Category (Tonnage Handled 2010)

Total Tonnage (Short Tons) Percentage of Total MAFC Shipments (Short Tons) Receipts (Short Tons)
MAFC Intrastate Shipping* 121,107,998 20.3% 60,553,999 60,553,999
Total Shipping Between MAFC States (excluding intrastate)* 239,510,766 40.1% 119,755,383 119,755,383
Shipping Between MAFC States and Rest of U.S. 198,189,680 33.2% 138,295,460 59,894,220
MAFC Foreign Trade** 38,593,941 6.5% 22,905,511 15,688,430
Total 597,402,385 100.0% 341,510,353 255,892,032

Source: 2010 State-to-State Public Domain Data Base by Origin and by State

*Intrastate Tonnage and Shipping between MAFC states is double counted because origins and destinations are internal, and cargo is handled at both ends.

**Foreign Trade excludes imports and exports shipped via ports in the Gulf of Mexico, which are included in “Shipping between MAFC States and the rest of U.S.”

Table 3: Top Commodities MAFC Maritime Freight (Total Tonnage 2010)

Shipments Receipts Total
Coal, Lignite, and Coal Coke 122,989,349 95,812,629 218,801,978
Sand, Gravel, Shells, Clay, Salt, and Slag 64,423,241 53,128,214 117,551,455
Iron Ore, Iron, and Steel Waste and Scrap 46,752,267 42,840,691 89,592,958
Food and Food Products 59,289,268 1,671,902 60,961,170
Unknown and Not Elsewhere Classified Products 23,182,792 21,083,533 44,266,325
Petroleum Products 10,780,002 14,376,865 25,156,867
Primary Non-Metal Products 8,139,787 6,922,645 15,062,432
Chemicals excluding Fertilizers 3,460,528 5,985,248 9,445,776
Chemical Fertilizers 779,677 7,476,394 8,256,071
Primary Metal Products 703,155 4,926,928 5,630,083
Non-Ferrous Ores and Scrap 2,378,761 2,378,761
Manufactured Goods 32,286 308,512 340,798

Figures include all MAFC region maritime freight: internal to MAFC region, between MAFC region and rest of United States, and foreign trade. MAFC internal tonnages are double counted because handling at both origin and destination are internal to region. “Unknown and Not Elsewhere Classified” and “Not Classified” tonnage includes commodities that either don’t fall into a standard classification or in cases where release of data would essentially disclose shipping data of individual firms.

Sources: 2010 State-to-State Public Domain Data Base by Origin and by State

Table 4: Total Maritime Trade by MAFC State (2010)

State US Rank Total Tonnage (‘000 tons) Domestic Foreign
Shipping (‘000 tons) Receiving (‘000 tons) Within State
(‘000 tons)
% Domestic vs. Total Shipping (‘000 tons) Receiving (‘000 tons) % Foreign vs. Total
Illinois 6 108,083 79,209 14,725 10,996 97% 1,073 2,080 3%
Ohio 8 98,986 19,996 55,198 10,488 87% 6,131 7,174 13%
Kentucky 9 91,357 46,032 26,646 18,679 100% 0 0 0%
Indiana 14 60,805 15,613 41,041 3,013 98% 454 684 2%
Michigan 15 59,067 18,374 21,225 10,059 84% 5,283 4,127 16%
Minnesota 20 40,408 28,079 6,907 994 89% 4,261 167 11%
Wisconsin 22 34,494 21,184 5,852 231 79% 5,704 1,523 21%
Missouri 24 32,953 22,308 5,352 5,293 100% 0 0 0%
Iowa 33 10,470 6,958 2,712 800 100% 0 0 0%
Kansas 39 239 232 7 0 100% 0 0 0%
Subtotal MAFC States 536,862 257,985 179,665 60,553 93% 22,906 15,755 7%
Total US States + D.C. 2,893,044 603,654 614,561 269,761 51% 553,095 851,972 49%
MAFC Share of US Total 19% 43% 29% 22% 4% 2%

Source: Waterborne Commerce of the United States Part 5, Table 4-2