They report that in 1994, 58% of corn was used for feed and residual, but that dropped to 39% in 2009. And in 1994, only 6% of corn was used for ethanol, a number that grew to 35% in 2009. Additionally, the development of distillers dried grains has displaced some use of corn in feed and in exports.
However, export volume has fallen as corn production has increased, making it unnecessary to increase trainloads from the Cornbelt to Gulf and Pacific Northwest ports.
The USDA reports, “The quantity of corn exports decreased only 9 percent, from 61.0 million tons in 1994 to 55.4 million tons in 2009. The use of corn to produce ethanol does not necessarily reduce the amount of corn available for exports because exports depend on price and production in other countries. The percentage of corn moved by shuttle-size shipments increased from 19 percent of rail corn tonnage in 1994 to 55 percent in 2009. Corn shipments of 1 to 5 railcars decreased from 15 percent of the rail tonnage in 1994 to 7 percent of the total in 2009.
Corn shipments of 6 to 49 railcars decreased from 41 percent of the rail tonnage to 19 percent and corn shipments of 50 to 74 railcars decreased from 26 percent to 19 percent of the rail tonnage.
The distance corn was shipped has increased 71 percent since 1994 (table 1). Corn shipments between 20 and 500 miles, which are most susceptible to truck competition, decreased from 49 percent of the rail shipments (27.3 million tons) in 1994 to 22 percent (16.0 million tons) in 2009, a tonnage decrease of 41 percent.
“From marketing year 1994 to MY 2009, U.S. soybean production increased 34 percent in response to high world demand for meat, milk, and eggs, which use soybean meal as a high-protein livestock feed. Soybean tonnages exported have increased 79 percent, from 25.2 million tons in marketing year 1994 to 45.0 million tons in marketing year 2009. The percentage of soybeans moved by shuttle-size shipments has increased from 10 percent of total rail tonnage in 1994 to 63 percent in 2009. Soybean shipments of 1 to 5 railcars decreased from 16 percent of total rail tonnage in 1994 to only 3 percent of the total in 2009. Soybean shipments of 6 to 49 railcars decreased from 44 percent of the total tonnage in 1994 to 19 percent in 2009. Soybean shipments of 50 to 74 railcars decreased from 30 percent of total rail tonnage in 1994 to 15 percent in 2009. The distance soybeans are shipped has increased 123 percent (table 1), partially in response to a 79-percent increase in export tonnages since 1994. Soybean rail tonnages hauled more than 1,500 miles increased from 7 percent of total rail soybean tonnage (1 million tons) in 1994 to 45 percent (13 million tons) in 2009, a tonnage increase of 1,190 percent.