Moving Grain: Navigation – Inland Waterways

©Debra L Ferguson Stock Photography

Navigation Conditions Improving on Inland Waterways

For most of 2018, high water conditions have disrupted barge traffic on the Mississippi, Ohio, Illinois, and Arkansas rivers. High water and fast currents have caused barge companies to reduce the size of tows, increase horsepower requirements of towboats, and in certain areas, restrict barge traffic to daylight operations. However, as of May 30, barge operators have reported that navigation conditions have improved on much of the inland waterways.

Without future significant rainfall in the central U.S., barge operators expect barge operations to be near normal by early June. As of May 26, total down-bound grain barge movements (year-to-date) on the locking portions on the Mississippi, Ohio, and Arkansas rivers were 13.2 million tons, 17 percent lower than the same period last year and 9 percent lower than the 3-year average.

Maritime Regulatory Reform

The Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) is seeking public input on how existing Federal government requirements affecting the maritime sector can be modified or repealed to: (1) increase efficiency; (2) reduce or eliminate unnecessary regulatory burdens; or (3) simplify regulatory compliance while continuing to meet statutory missions.

Interested persons are encouraged to submit comments, identified by “Maritime Regulatory Reform RFI,” through the Federal Rulemaking Portal or by email. Emailed comments should include “Maritime Regulatory Reform RFI” in the subject line of the message. Written comments and information are requested on or before July 16, 2018. OIRA will make all submissions publicly available on www.regulations.gov.

Grain News on AgFax


Grain Inspections Down Slightly

For the week ending May 24, total inspections of grain (corn, wheat, and soybeans) for export from all major U.S. export regions reached 2.74 million metric tons (mmt), down 2 percent from the previous week, up 26 percent from last year, and 48 percent above the 3-year average. Total inspections of wheat and corn increased 23 and 10 percent, respectively, from the past week, however, the increase could not offset the 32 percent drop in soybean inspections.

Grain inspections were down 6 percent from the previous week in the Pacific Northwest (PNW), but up 14 percent in the Mississippi Gulf. Current outstanding (unshipped) export sales continued to fall for corn, wheat, and soybeans.

Snapshots by Sector

Export Sales

For the week ending May 17, unshipped balances of wheat, corn, and soybeans totaled 29.5 mmt, up 30 percent from the same time last year. Net weekly wheat export sales were .112 mmt, up 78 percent from the previous week. Net corn export sales were .854 mmt, down 13 percent from the previous week. Net soybean export sales were negative .139 mmt.

Rail

U.S. Class I railroads originated 22,225 grain carloads for the week ending May 19, down 8 percent from the previous week and 7 percent from last year, but up 5 percent from the 3-year average.

Average June shuttle secondary railcar bids/offers per car were $300 above tariff for the week ending May 24, up $34 from last week, and $7 lower than last year. Average non-shuttle secondary railcar bids/offers per car were $178 above tariff, down $159 from last week, and $218 higher than last year.

Barge

For the week ending May 26, barge grain movements totaled 737,826 tons, 19 percent lower than the previous week and down 6 percent from the same period last year.

For the week ending May 26, 460 grain barges moved down river, 107 barges less than the previous week. There were 707 grain barges unloaded in New Orleans, 1 percent higher than the previous week.

Ocean

For the week ending May 24, 31 ocean-going grain vessels were loaded in the Gulf, unchanged from the same period last year. Thirty-eight vessels are expected to be loaded within the next 10 days, 38 percent less than the same period last year.

For the week ending May 24, the ocean freight rate for shipping bulk grain from the Gulf to Japan was $43.50 per metric ton, 1 percent less than the previous week. The cost of shipping from the PNW to Japan was $24.25 per metric ton, 1 percent less than the previous week.

Fuel

For the week ending May 28, the U.S. average diesel fuel price increased 1 cent from the previous week to $3.29 per gallon, 72 cents higher than the same week last year.

Full report.


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