U.S. Grain Transportation: Construction Restricts Miss. River Traffic

On January 5, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began construction of a series of bendway weirs on the Mississippi River 90 miles south of Memphis, Tenn., in an area where the river is narrow and makes a sharp bend. The bendway weirs are underwater structures that extend out from the river bank and redirect river currents to make a more reliable and safer navigation channel.

Construction will be done from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. since the association was finally able to find a builder
for the project. It is expected to take 90 days.

Barge traffic will be halted during the construction periods, and the daily accumulation of stopped barges will be allowed to pass the site each night.

Mississippi Gulf Soybean Inspections Increase

For the week ending January 8, total inspections of soybeans from all major export regions reached 1.9 million metric tons (mmt), up 42 percent from the past week and 19 percent above last year.

Mississippi Gulf soybeans jumped 92 percent from the previous week as shipments to Asia increased 89 percent from the past week. Soybean inspections in the Mississippi Gulf were the highest since November 20.

Increased soybean inspections helped boost total inspections of grain (corn, wheat, soybeans) to 2.6 million metric tons (mmt), up 18 percent from the past week and 38 percent above the 3 – year average. Corn and wheat inspections, however, were down 8 and 31 percent from the past week.

U.S.-Mexico Trucking Pilot Program Report Provided to Congress

On Jan. 9, 2015, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) provided a report to Congress concluding that the provisions of U.S. law pertaining to statistical data collection and analysis of the safety of Mexican carriers have been met.

Mexico and the United States are granting full access to cross – border trucking services, subject to domestic laws and regulations in accordance with the July 6, 2011 U.S. – Mexico memorandum of understanding and the North American Free Trade Agreement cross – border long – haul trucking provisions. FMCSA is accepting applications from additional Mexico carriers interested in conducting long – haul operations in the United States.

Snapshots by Sector

  • Export Sales During the week ending January 1, unshipped balances of wheat, corn, and soybeans totaled 33.2 mmt, 12 percent lower than at the same time last year. Corn export sales reached .388 mmt — a marketing year low — down 57 percent from the previous week. Wheat reached 0.151 mmt — a marketing year low — also down 57 percent, but soybeans, at 0.910 mmt, were up 49 percent.
  • Rail U.S. railroads originated 22,977 carloads of grain during the week ending January 3, up 19 percent from last week, 23 percent from last year, and 39 percent from the 3-year average. During the week ending January 8, average January shuttle secondary railcar bids/offers per car were $ 350 below tariff, down $75 from last week and $2,350 lower than last year. Average non – shuttle secondary railcar bids/offers per car were $34 above tariff.
  • Barge During the week ending January 10 barge grain movements totaled 580,585 tons — 24.7 percent higher than the previous week and 27 percent higher than the same period last year. During the week ending January 10, 351 grain barges moved downriver, up 21.5 percent from last week; 970 grain barges were unloaded in New Orleans, up 57 percent from the previous week.
  • Ocean During the week ending January 8, 41 ocean-going grain vessels were loaded in the Gulf, 13.3 percent less than the same period last year. Sixty-three vessels are expected to be loaded within the next 10 days, 21.3 percent less than the same period last year. During the week ending January 9, the ocean freight rate for shipping bulk grain from the Gulf to Japan was $36.50 per mt, down 6.4 percent from the previous week. The cost of shipping from the PNW to Japan was $20.00 per mt, down 4.8 percent from the previous week.
  • Fuel During the week ending January 12 , U.S. average diesel fuel prices decreased 8 cents from the previous week to $3.05 per gallon — down 83 cents from the same week last year.

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