Re: Rice Shipments By Rail

Tim O'Connor <timoconnor@...>

Dave Nelson wrote

I looked again at the ICC data (some data from 1950, others from 1956). In
1950 and 1956 rice carloading averaged 48 tons/car; California rice shipments
in 1950 were ~78,000 tons ... Would the SP invested in specialized cars for
800 carloadings a year, equivalent to 39,000 tons?
No, but SSW would. Together, Arkansas and Lousiana produced 3x as much rice
as California, and the markets are much further away than they are in the
Sacramento River valley where nearly all California rice is grown.

U.S. production of rice has exploded 4-fold in the last 25 years, but was
pretty stable around 2 million tons annually before that. Currently about
16% of rice is used to produce beer -- I will guess that the proportion of
rice used in beer 40 years ago was far higher, closer to 35-40%. (This is
because per capita beer consumption has declined while per capita rice use
has skyrocketed.)

As regards freight cars however, I am sure most railroad rice shipments
prior to 1970 used bags of rice which travel quite well in box cars and
not so well in covered hoppers. Obviously the most likely use of covered
hoppers for rice, even today, is to food processors, breweries, and for
export. (The U.S. share of the export rice market is 14% even though the
U.S. produces just over 1% of all the rice in the world.) As I said, SSW
and SP bought those 3 bay covered hoppers in the 1950's for SOMETHING --
and that probably included rice. But those who say that most rice still
travelled in box cars (if it travelled by rail at all) are right too.

Lastly, to add a bit of perspective, rail shipment of cement producted in
California in 1950 was over 1.3 million tons. That was probably noticed by
the SP.
California currently produces about 2 million tons of rice; that is about
1/4 of U.S. production. A lot of the rest comes from Arkansas, Louisiana
and Mississippi. Most California rice probably still does not travel by
rail since huge markets and export docks are very close by.

Tim O'Connor <timoconnor@...>
Sterling, Massachusetts

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