Moving Grain: Weekly Barge Shipments Decrease

©Debra L Ferguson Stock Photography

Weekly Barge Grain Shipments Decrease

Due to the high water conditions and lock and dam repairs, grain barge shipments experienced a notable drop in tonnages for the week ending July 14. Grain barge shipments from the Mississippi River system were 741,950 tons, a 36 percent drop compared to the previous week. The total grain shipments though Mississippi River Locks 27 (near Granite City, IL) and Ohio River Locks 52 (near Brookport, IL), were 612,000 and 94,950 tons, a 33 percent and 53 percent drop, respectively, from the previous week.

The barge industry expects further delays in operations with the on-going repair work at Ohio River Locks 52 and the scheduled closure of the main chamber at Melvin Price Locks and Dam (Upper Mississippi River, near E. Alton, IL) for the last half of July.

Wheat Inspections Rebound

For the week ending July 12, total inspections of grain (corn, wheat, and soybeans) for export from all major U.S. export regions reached 2.36 million metric tons (mmt); down 3 percent from the previous week, up 15 percent from last year, and 22 percent above the 3-year average. Grain inspections continued to fall due to a 17 percent drop in corn inspections and a 5 percent decrease in inspections of soybeans.

Despite the drop in total inspections, wheat inspections jumped 75 percent from the previous week due primarily to increased shipments to Latin America. Pacific Northwest (PNW) inspections decreased 19 percent from the past week, while Mississippi Gulf inspections remained unchanged. Outstanding (unshipped) export sales of grain continued to fall for corn, wheat, and soybeans.

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Secretary Perdue to Deliver Keynote Address at the Agricultural Transportation Summit Next Week

On July 25, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue will present the keynote address at the 2018 Agricultural Transportation Summit, “Connecting Growing Supply with Growing Demand,” in Arlington, VA. The Summit—hosted by the National Grain and Feed Association, Soy Transportation Coalition, and USDA—focuses on the importance of inland waterway, rail, truck, and vessel transportation to the competitiveness and profitability of U.S. agriculture.

Agricultural stakeholders will hear updates and learn from experts in the transportation industry, academia, USDA, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the Surface Transportation Board on how the transportation system affects agriculture’s competitiveness. The Summit will take place on July 25-26. To register, please visit the official website.

Snapshots by Sector

Export Sales

For the week ending July 5, unshipped balances of wheat, corn, and soybeans totaled 23.1 mmt, up 17 percent from the same time last year. Net weekly wheat export sales were .136 mmt, down 69 percent from the previous week. Net corn export sales were .402 mmt, down 9 percent from the previous week. Net soybean export sales were .159 mmt, down 66 percent from the previous week.

Rail

U.S. Class I railroads originated 21,297 grain carloads for the week ending July 7, down 9 percent from the previous week, but up 18 percent from last year, and 11 percent from the 3-year average.

Average July shuttle secondary railcar bids/offers, per car, were $431 above tariff for the week ending July 12, up $56 from last week, and $581 higher than last year. There were no non-shuttle bids/offers this week.

Barge

For the week ending July 14, barge grain movements totaled 741,950 tons, 36 percent lower than the previous week and down 19 percent from the same period last year.

For the week ending July 14, 473 grain barges moved down river, 267 barges less than the previous week. There were 776 grain barges unloaded in New Orleans, 9 percent higher than the previous week.

Ocean

For the week ending July 12, 28 ocean-going grain vessels were loaded in the Gulf, 20 percent less than the same period last year. Forty-eight vessels are expected to be loaded within the next 10 days, 14 percent less than the same period last year.

For the week ending July 12, the ocean freight rate for shipping bulk grain, from the Gulf to Japan, was $44.00 per metric ton, 1 percent more than the previous week. The cost of shipping from the PNW to Japan was $24.75 per metric ton, unchanged from the previous week.

Fuel

For the week ending July 16, the U.S. average diesel fuel price remained unchanged from the previous week at $3.24 per gallon, 75 cents higher than the same week last year.

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