Heading into Winter, Minor Grain Barge Traffic Delays Reported
For the first half of December, ice accumulations have not been an issue on the Illinois River and lower portions of the Upper Mississippi River. The St. Louis area of the Mississippi River is operating under normal conditions; however, some dredging activity during night time hours has caused some delays.
The Ohio and Lower Mississippi Rivers are experiencing high water levels, causing some delays and restrictions of barge tow sizes. For the week ending December 15, there were 816 grain barges unloaded in New Orleans, 3 percent higher than last week, but 12 percent lower than the 3-year average.
U.S. Department of Transportation Announces Recipients of $1.5 Billion In “BUILD” Grants
Last week, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced the recipients of the Better Utilizing Investment to Leverage Development (BUILD) grants. The funds span 91 infrastructure projects in 49 states and the District of Columbia. DOT Secretary Elaine Chao indicated that highway and bridge projects received the largest share (69 percent) of the total $1.5 billion appropriated by Congress.
Rail, transit, and port projects received about $165 million, $141 million, and $146 million, respectively. The maximum award for this round of BUILD Transportation grants is $25 million and, as specified in the FY 2018 Appropriations Act, no more than $150 million can be awarded to a single State. At least 30 percent of funds must be awarded to projects located in rural areas.
Grain Inspections Increase; Wheat Highest Since 2017
Grain News on AgFax
For the week ending December 13, total inspections of grain (corn, wheat, and soybeans), for export from all major U.S. export regions, reached 2.61 million metric tons (mmt); up 15 percent from the previous week, down 17 percent from last year, and down 10 percent from the 3-year average.
Inspections of wheat jumped 52 percent from the previous week, the highest since late September 2017. Demand for U.S. wheat remained strong from Asia and Latin America. Corn and soybean inspections were up 1 and 10 percent, respectively, from the previous week.
Pacific Northwest grain inspections increased 24 percent from the previous week, and Mississippi Gulf inspections increased 11 percent for the same period. Outstanding export sales (unshipped) are up from the previous week for wheat, but down for corn and soybeans.
Snapshots by Sector
For the week ending December 6, unshipped balances of wheat, corn, and soybeans totaled 28.3 mmt, down 17 percent from the same time last year. Net weekly wheat export sales were .754 mmt, up 6 percent from the previous week. Net corn export sales were .903 mmt, down 23 percent from the previous week. Net soybean export sales were .792 mmt, down 11 percent from the past week.
U.S. Class I railroads originated 23,082 grain carloads for the week ending December 8, up 3 percent from the previous week, down 3 percent from last year, and down 3 percent from the 3-year average.
Average December shuttle secondary railcar bids/offers per car were $263 below tariff for the week ending December 13, down $147 from last week, and down $117 from last year. Average non-shuttle secondary railcar bids/offers per car were $0, up $50 from last week, and down $100 from last year.
For the week ending December 15, barge grain movements totaled 853,616 tons, 9 percent higher than the previous week and up 5 percent from the same period last year.
For the week ending December 15, 550 grain barges moved down river, 47 barges more than the previous week. There were 816 grain barges unloaded in New Orleans, 3 percent higher than the previous week.
For the week ending December 13, 33 ocean-going grain vessels were loaded in the Gulf, 15 percent less than the same period last year. Sixty-six vessels are expected to be loaded within the next 10 days, 22 percent more than the same period last year.
For the week ending December 13, the ocean freight rate for shipping bulk grain, from the Gulf to Japan, was $48.00 per metric ton. The cost of shipping, from the PNW to Japan, was $25.75 per metric ton.
For the week ending December 17, the U.S. average diesel fuel price decreased 4 cents, from the previous week, to $3.121 per gallon, 22 cents above the same week last year.