NGFA Emphasizes Waterway Infrastructure Needs in Letters to Congress
Through the National Grain and Feed Association’s (NGFA) Agricultural Transportation Working Group, 22 agricultural producer and agribusiness organizations sent letters to Senate and House appropriators on April 5, asking for continued funding and support of the Nation’s inland waterway infrastructure.
They wrote, “While the U.S. transportation infrastructure system long has provided U.S. agricultural producers and agribusinesses with a strong comparative advantage against foreign competitors, our waterways infrastructure system is falling behind. Most locks and dams on the U.S. inland waterways system have surpassed their design life span of 50 years. Further, navigation channels at U.S. ports need to be deepened to accommodate larger vessels transiting through the recently reopened and expanded Panama Canal.”
NGFA was established in 1896 and consists of more than 1,050 grain, feed, processing, exporting, and other grain-related companies.
Grain Inspections Up Slightly
For the week ending April 6, total inspections of grain (corn, wheat, and soybeans) for export from major U.S. export regions reached 2.7 million metric tons (mmt), up 2 percent from the previous week, up 43 percent from the same time last year, and 29 percent above the 3-year average. Soybean inspections rebounded from the previous week, increasing 47 percent as demand from Asia and Europe increased. Wheat inspections were up 12 percent from the past week, but corn inspections dropped 21 percent.
Grain inspections in the Pacific Northwest (PNW) increased 24 percent from the previous week, but Mississippi Gulf inspections decreased 8 percent for the same period. Outstanding (unshipped) export sales (unshipped) were up slightly for wheat but down for corn and soybeans.
National Waterways Foundation Announced the Update of Modal Comparison Study
On March 29, the National Waterways Foundation announced an update of the study titled “A Modal Comparison of Domestic Freight Transportation Effects on the General Public: 2001-2014 (January 2017).” The study was conducted by the Texas Transportation Institute’s Center for Ports and Waterways. The study was initially published in 2009 and is updated every 5 years.
The 2017 report addresses and compares the impacts of major freight modes (barge, rail, and truck) in six topical areas: cargo capacity, congestion, emissions, energy efficiency, safety impacts, and infrastructure impacts. For example, the study updates fuel efficiency data and concludes that, with a single gallon of fuel, barges, railroads, and trucks now can move a ton of cargo 647, 477, and 145 miles, respectively. The full version of this study can be found on the National Waterways Foundation’s website.
Snapshots by Sector
For the week ending March 30, unshipped balances of wheat, corn, and soybeans totaled 30.2 mmt, up 57 percent from the same time last year. Net weekly wheat export sales were .568 mmt, up 22 percent from the previous week. Net corn export sales were 1.14 mmt, up 59 percent from the previous week, and net soybean export sales were .482 mmt, down 21 percent from the past week
U.S. Class I railroads originated 23,194 grain carloads for the week ending April 1, down 1 percent from the previous week, up 6 percent from last year, and up 8 percent from the 3-year average.
Average April shuttle secondary railcar bids/offers per car were $319 below tariff for the week ending April 6, up $2 from last week, and $81 lower than last year. Average secondary non-shuttle railcar bids/offers per car were $125 below tariff, down $88 from last week, and $68 lower than last year.
For the week ending April 8, barge grain movements totaled 706,150 tons, 17 percent lower than the last week, and up 3 percent from the same period last year.
For the week ending April 8, 465 grain barges moved down river, down 13 percent from last week, 654 grain barges were unloaded in New Orleans, down 22 percent from the previous week.
For the week ending April 6, 40 ocean-going grain vessels were loaded in the Gulf, 21 percent more than the same period last year. Sixty vessels are expected to be loaded within the next 10 days, 22 percent more than the same period last year.
For the week ending April 6, the ocean freight rate for shipping bulk grain from the Gulf to Japan was $39.00 per metric ton, unchanged from the previous week. The cost of shipping from the PNW to Japan was $21.00 per metric ton, 1 percent less than the previous week.
During the week ending April 10, average diesel fuel prices increased 3 cents from previous week at $2.58 per gallon, 45 cents higher than the same week last year.