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Moving Grain: Rock Removal Expected to Delay Mississippi River Traffic

Ernst Undesser
From USDA November 22, 2017

Moving Grain: Rock Removal Expected to Delay Mississippi River Traffic

Photo: University of Arkansas

Rock Removal Activities Expected to Delay Mississippi River Barge Traffic

Starting late November through early December, barge traffic can expect delays on the Mississippi River near Thebes, IL, as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is scheduled to begin a rock removal dredging operations at that site. The U.S. Coast Guard will restrict northbound tows to 28 barges and southbound tows to 15 barges during dredging operations.

Work will be done during daylight hours, 7 days a week. During non-work hours, traffic will not be restricted. There is no estimate of project duration at this time.

The need to dredge at this site has been an issue from late 2012 and early 2013 when extreme low water conditions threatened to stop navigation. During January 2013, rock removal operations and timely regional rainfall made water levels safe for navigation. Presently, the proposed rock removal activities are a preventive measure for future extreme low water events.

The project has been postponed several times over the years due to higher than expected rivers levels that prevent the dredging activities.

FMCSA to provide 90-day Temporary Waiver from ELD Requirement for Agricultural Commodities

On November 20, in advance of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) December 18, 2017 implementation deadline for the electronic logging device (ELD) rule, FMCSA announced it will provide a 90- day temporary waiver from the ELD requirement for transporters of agricultural commodities.

The waiver was provided in order to ease the transition of motor carriers to the rule. In the announcement, FMCSA said it will provide additional guidance related to enforcement procedures during the ELD transition, such as the existing Hours-of-Service exemption for the agricultural industry, and guidance on the “personal conveyance” provision.

FMCSA said the new guidance on the existing 150 air miles hours-of-service agricultural exemption will be provided to improve clarity for both law enforcement and the agricultural industry and allow the agricultural industry to maximize the use of this statutory exemption. FMCSA will consider comments received before publishing the final guidance.

Corn Inspections Rise, while Soybean Inspections Fall

For the week ending November 16, total inspections of grain (corn, wheat, and soybeans) for export from all major U.S. export regions reached 3.07 million metric tons (mmt), up 2 percent from the previous week, down 24 percent from the same time last year, and down 12 percent from the 3-year average.

Corn inspections accounted for the increase in total inspections, rising 60 percent from last week. Soybean inspections were down 2 percent from the previous week, continuing a seasonal decline after peaking in the week ending October 26. While seasonal trends for soybean inspections tend to decline after October and early November, corn inspections generally start to rise around this time of the year.

Snapshots by Sector

Export Sales

For the week ending November 9, unshipped balances of wheat, corn, and soybeans totaled 35.5 mmt, down 17 percent from the same time last year. Net weekly wheat export sales were .489 mmt, down 37 percent from the previous week. Net corn export sales were .950 mmt, down 60 percent from the previous week, and net soybean export sales were 1.11 mmt for the same period, down 5 percent from the previous week.

Rail

U.S. Class I railroads originated 22,845 grain carloads for the week ending November 11, down 2 percent from the previous week, down 15 percent from last year, and down 3 percent from the 3-year average.

Average December shuttle secondary railcar bids/offers per car were $91 below tariff for the week ending November 16, up $22 from last week, and $60 lower than last year. There were no non-shuttle bids/offers this week.

Barge

For the week ending November 18, barge grain movements totaled 881,583 tons, 20 percent lower than the previous week, and down 22 percent from the same period last year.

For the week ending November 18, 554 grain barges moved down river, down 20 percent from last week. 1,033 grain barges were unloaded in New Orleans, about the same as the previous week.

Ocean

For the week ending November 16, 41 ocean-going grain vessels were loaded in the Gulf, 11 percent less than the same period last year. Fifty-five vessels are expected to be loaded within the next 10 days, 25 percent less than the same period last year.

For the week ending November 16, the ocean freight rate for shipping bulk grain from the Gulf to Japan was $42.00 per metric ton, 2 percent less than the previous week. The cost of shipping from the PNW to Japan was $24.00 per metric ton, 2 percent less than the previous week.

Fuel

During the week ending November 20, average diesel fuel prices remain almost unchanged from the previous week at $2.91 per gallon, 49 cents above the same week last year.

Full report.

Ernst Undesser
From USDA November 22, 2017