Moving Grain: Panama Canal Approves Toll Structure Modifications

    Panama Canal Approves Toll Structure Modifications

    Subsequent to the public hearing held on July 24, 2019 on the proposed toll structure modifications and implementation of some of the suggested comments, the Cabinet Council of the Republic of Panama officially approved modifications to the Canal toll structure on September 3.

    The new structure modifies the tolls charged to Neopanamax dry bulk vessels carrying iron ore, Neopanamax dry bulk vessels transiting in ballast, and the liquid bulk segment (including oil and product tankers, chemical tankers, liquefied petroleum gas and liquefied natural gas vessels). The modifications also include a 20-foot-equivalent-unit tariff applicable to non-container vessels carrying containers on deck and a revised toll structure for small vessels.

    MARAD Offers Cargo Preference Training Courses

    On September 12, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration (MARAD) launched newly accredited, web-based training courses on cargo preference laws and regulations. The courses, developed in collaboration with Defense Acquisition University (DAU), are intended to enhance comprehension of and compliance with cargo preference laws by other Federal agencies, supporting contractors and program participants, such as loan and grant recipients.

    Cargo preference laws and regulations statutorily mandate the use of U.S.-flag vessels for cargo purchased, furnished, or financed with federal funding. U.S. cargo preference laws require that 100 percent of military and at least 50 percent of non-military government cargo be carried on U.S.-flag vessels. The laws protect the Nation’s cargo interest and help U.S.-flag operators remain competitive.

    Total Grain Inspections Lowest Since Mid-July

    For the week ending September 12, total inspections of grain (corn, wheat, and soybeans) for export from all major U.S. export regions reached 1.60 million metric tons (mmt). Inspections are down 23 percent from the previous week, down 31 percent from last year, and 38 percent below the 3-year average.

    Total inspections were the lowest since the middle of July, with corn inspections dropping 31 percent from the previous week and soybeans decreasing 32 percent for the same period. Wheat inspections, however, were up 11 percent from the previous week. Mississippi Gulf grain inspections decreased 45 percent from the past week, while Pacific Northwest inspections increased 40 percent.

    Snapshots by Sector

    Export Sales

    For the week ending September 5, unshipped balances of wheat, corn, and soybeans totaled 21 mmt. This indicates a 40-percent decrease in outstanding sales, compared to the same time last year. Net corn export sales reached .499 mmt for the beginning of the new marketing year; up significantly from the past week. Net soybean export sales were 1.17 mmt, also up noticeably from the previous week. Net weekly wheat export sales reached .611 mmt, up 96 percent from the from the previous week.


    U.S. Class I railroads originated 17,431 grain carloads during the week ending September 7. This is a 21-percent decrease from the previous week, 13 percent less than last year, and 13 percent lower than the 3-year average.

    Grain News on AgFax

    Average September shuttle secondary railcar bids/offers (per car) were $194 below tariff for the week ending September 12. This is $148 more than last week and $119 lower than this week last year. There were no non-shuttle bids/offers this week.


    For the week ending September 14, barge grain movements totaled 735,777 tons. This is a 106-percent increase from the previous week and 36 percent more than the same period last year.

    For the week ending September 14, 473 grain barges moved down river. This is 252 more barges than the previous week. There were 374 grain barges unloaded in New Orleans, 45 percent fewer than the previous week.


    For the week ending September 12, 30 ocean-going grain vessels were loaded in the Gulf. This is 9 percent fewer than the same period last year. Forty vessels are expected to be loaded within the next 10 days. This is 29 percent fewer than the same period last year.

    As of September 12, the rate for shipping a metric ton (mt) of grain from the U.S. Gulf to Japan was $52.00. This is 1 percent more than the previous week. The rate from PNW to Japan was $29.75 per mt, 1 percent more than the previous week.


    For the week ending September 16, the U.S. average diesel fuel price increased 1.6 cents from the previous week to $2.987 per gallon. This price is 28.1 cents less than the same week last year.

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