NGFA Announces the Opening of the Mid-Mississippi River
On March 9, 2018, the National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) announced the opening of the Mid-Mississippi River. According to NGFA trade rules, the opening of the Mid-Mississippi River begins on “the first business day after the first empty dry cargo covered barge suitable for loading, originating at or below Winfield, MO, reaches Dubuque, Iowa.”
This is an annual announcement that is useful to the grain industry because it signifies the availability of grain for the barge market. For additional information on current navigation conditions, see this week’s feature article.
STB Updates Rules on Ex Parte Communications in Informal Rulemaking Proceedings
On February 28, the Surface Transportation Board (STB) released a decision in EP 739, Ex Parte Communications in Informal Rulemaking Proceedings, to permit ex parte communications (i.e., without the knowledge or consent of the parties to the proceeding) in informal rulemaking proceedings, subject to disclosure requirements.
STB also adopted other changes to its ex parte rules that clarify and update when and how interested persons may communicate informally with the Board, regarding pending proceedings other than rulemaking.
The intent of the modified regulations is to enhance STB’s ability to make informed decisions, through increased stakeholder communications, while ensuring STB’s record-building process in rulemaking proceedings remains transparent and fair.
Pacific Northwest Grain Inspections Rebound
For the week ending March 8, total inspections of grain (corn, wheat, and soybeans) for export from all major U.S. export regions reached 2.72 million metric tons (mmt); up 11 percent from the previous week, down 10 percent from last year, and 4 percent above the 3-year average.
Total inspections of corn remained strong, with week-to-week inspections increasing 41 percent. Corn exports increased primarily to Asian destinations. Inspections of wheat and soybeans receded 18 and 3 percent, respectively, from the past week.
Grain News on AgFax
Pacific Northwest (PNW) grain inspections jumped 161 percent from the previous week, with increases for each of the three major grains. Rail deliveries of grain to PNW ports were also up from the previous week; increasing 25 percent.
Mississippi Gulf inspections decreased 19 percent from week to week. Current outstanding (unshipped) export sales were up for corn, wheat, and soybeans.
Snapshots by Sector
For the week ending March 1, unshipped balances of wheat, corn, and soybeans totaled 36.3 mmt, up 10 percent from the same time last year. Net weekly wheat export sales were .391 mmt, up 105 percent from the previous week. Net corn export sales were 1.86 mmt, up 8 percent from the previous week. Net soybean export sales totaled 2.51 mmt, up notably from the previous week.
U.S. Class I railroads originated 23,198 grain carloads for the week ending March 3; up 15 percent from the previous week, down 3 percent from last year, and up 4 percent from the 3-year average.
Average March shuttle secondary railcar bids/offers, per car, were $1,350 above tariff for the week ending March 8, up $633 from last week, and $950 higher than last year. There were no non-shuttle bids/offers this week.
For the week ending March 10, barge grain movements totaled 359,479 tons, 7 percent lower than the previous week, and down 58 percent from the same period last year.
For the week ending March 10, 253 grain barges moved down river, 1 barge higher than the previous week. There were 721 grain barges unloaded in New Orleans, 4 percent lower than the previous week.
For the week ending March 8, 39 ocean-going grain vessels were loaded in the Gulf, 15 percent less than the same period last year. Sixty-seven vessels are expected to be loaded within the next 10 days, unchanged from the same period last year.
For the week ending March 8, the ocean freight rate for shipping bulk grain from the Gulf to Japan was $45.00 per metric ton, up 1 percent from the previous week. The cost of shipping from the PNW to Japan was $24.00 per metric ton, unchanged from the previous week.