Moving Grain: Mississippi Gulf Grain Inspections Continue to Increase

Barge and ship traffic transport export cargo on the Mississippi River in the Port of New Orleans. Photo: Bob Nichols, USDA

Mississippi Gulf Grain Inspections Continue to Increase

For the week ending October 3, total inspections of grain (corn, wheat, and soybeans) for export from all major U.S. export regions reached 2 million metric tons (mmt). Inspections were down 1 percent from the previous week, down 22 percent from last year, and 27 percent below the 3-year average.

Mississippi Gulf grain inspections continued to increase, rising 13 percent from the previous week. Inspections in the Pacific Northwest (PNW), however, decreased 30 percent primarily because of lower corn inspections. Overall, inspections of wheat dropped 23 percent from week to week, but inspections of corn and soybeans increased 11 and 5 percent.

Diesel Prices Start a Downward Trend

In the past 2 weeks, diesel fuel prices decreased 3.4 cents to $3.047 per gallon. This drop in prices came after a 2-week increase of 11 cents per gallon. Crude oil prices followed a similar pattern. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration reported, “Oil spot prices began September at $61 per barrel and increased to $68 per barrel after attacks on major Saudi Arabian oil infrastructure disrupted the country’s crude oil production.

However, spot oil prices have subsequently fallen, reaching $58 per barrel on October 4, as Saudi Arabia restored the shut-in production and concerns about oil demand based on the condition of the global economy rose.”

New Regulatory Announcements from the STB on Demurrage Rules and Charges

Earlier this week, the Surface Transportation Board (STB) issued three decisions on demurrage and accessorial rules and charges. This follows an earlier 2-day public hearing held last May.

The first is Ex Parte (EP 757), in which STB issued a proposed policy statement on demurrage and accessorial rules and charges. The statement details the principles the Board would consider in evaluating the reasonableness of those items.

In the second docket (EP 760), STB proposed to clarify the rules surrounding demurrage and accessorial exemptions, as well as to remove some of the exemptions for agricultural products.

Last, in EP 759, the Board proposed rule changes to define the minimum information required on Class I railroad invoices. The Board’s stated goal in EP 759 is to enhance the transparency and accuracy of demurrage invoicing. Comments in each proceeding are due by November 6, 2019.

Snapshots by Sector

Export Sales

For the week ending September 26, unshipped balances of wheat, corn, and soybeans totaled 23.9 mmt. This represents a 35-percent decrease in outstanding sales, compared to the same time last year. Net corn export sales reached .563 mmt, up 14 percent from the past week. Net soybean export sales were 2.08 mmt, down 50 percent from the previous week. Net weekly wheat export sales reached .328 mmt, up 16 percent from the from the previous week.

Grain News on AgFax


U.S. Class I railroads originated 17,936 grain carloads during the week ending September 28. This is a 6-percent decrease from the previous week, 18 percent less than last year, and 26 percent lower than the 3-year average.

Average October shuttle secondary railcar bids/offers (per car) were $63 above tariff for the week ending October 3. This is $331 more than last week and $8 more than this week last year. There were no non-shuttle bids/offers this week.


For the week ending October 5, barge grain movements totaled 507,298 tons. This is a 10-percent decrease from the previous week and 6 percent less than the same period last year.

For the week ending October 5, 314 grain barges moved down river. This is 41 fewer barges than the previous week. There were 669 grain barges unloaded in New Orleans, 2 percent fewer than the previous week.


For the week ending October 3, 35 ocean-going grain vessels were loaded in the Gulf—13 percent more than the same period last year. Forty-five vessels are expected to be loaded within the next 10 days (starting October 4). This is 26 percent fewer than the same period last year.

As of October 3, the rate for shipping a metric ton (mt) of grain from the U.S. Gulf to Japan was $51.25. This is relatively unchanged from the previous week. The rate from PNW to Japan was $28.50 per mt, 1 percent less than the previous week.

Full report.

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