WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced on Nov. 19 a sharp rise in grain exports through the St. Lawrence Seaway in 2010, in part due to Russia’s ban on grain exports that began in August.

With an increase of nearly 23% through October over 2009 levels, nearly 1.9 million tonnes of U.S. grain have moved through the waterway this year. Overall, St. Lawrence Seaway traffic is up 17% in 2010 compared to 2009.

“Vessel traffic this fall is robust in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System, as ships are busy carrying almost two million tonnes of U.S. wheat, corn and soybeans to export markets in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa,” said Collister Johnson, Jr., administrator of the U.S. Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corp.

Russia has announced keeping its grain ban in place through the end of this year. As a result, markets in Europe and North Africa have looked to North American grain farmers to satisfy their demand for grain. Furthermore, the U.S. has produced bumper grain crops this season that have been harvested earlier than in past years.

In particular, the ports of Duluth, Minnesota, U.S., Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S., and Toledo, Ohio, U.S., are realizing sizable increases in vessel traffic and tonnage. The grain surge is likely to remain at the forefront of the strong postings for Great Lakes ports for the final months of the Seaway’s shipping season.