Moving Grain: Army Corps Announces Funding of 6 Port Channel Projects

Port of New Orleans - Mississippi River. ©Debra L Ferguson Stock Photography

U.S. Army Corps Announces Funding of Six Port Channel Projects

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has allocated $403 million in response to port requests to accommodate growing vessel sizes. The most funding ($274 million) went to the Port of Mobile, AL, to dredge its port channel to 50 feet (ft.), followed by $85 million to deepen the Mississippi River to 50 ft. between the Gulf of Mexico and a point between the Ports of New Orleans and Baton Rouge in Louisiana.

Other allocations included $29.1 million to Port Everglades, FL, for widening the Intracoastal Waterway by 250 ft.; $13.3 million for dredging and maintenance work in Jacksonville (FL) Harbor; $1.5 million for a study on deepening the Seagirt Loop Channel for the Port of Baltimore (MD); and $200,000 for completing the NY and NJ Harbor Navigation Improvements Study for the Ports of New York and New Jersey.

A 2019 USDA study estimated that increasing the lower Mississippi draft depth to 50 feet would save $13.02 in ocean freight rates per metric ton of soybeans shipped from the Gulf.

Diesel Fuel Prices Fall for Sixth Consecutive Week

During the week ending February 17, U.S. on-highway diesel fuel prices averaged $2.89 per gallon, 2 cents lower than the previous week and 11.6 cents below last year. Average diesel prices have fallen 18.9 cents per gallon over the past 6 weeks.

A fall in crude oil demand because of the coronavirus and warmer than normal January temperatures in the United States have put downward pressure on crude oil and diesel fuel prices. Inventories of distillate fuel oils, used to make both diesel fuels and heating oils, have fallen each of the past 4 weeks ending February 7, after reaching a more than 2-year high in early January.

USDA’s Agricultural Projections Through 2029

Last week, USDA released a report, USDA Agricultural Projections to 2029, with accompanying data tables. The report includes projections for farm income, U.S. crop and livestock supply and use, and global agricultural trade. USDA’s long-term agricultural projections reflect departmentwide consensus on a longrun baseline scenario (2020-29) for the agricultural sector. The projections can help agricultural shippers and carriers anticipate patterns in future transportation demand for agricultural products.

Snapshots by Sector

Export Sales

For the week ending February 6, unshipped balances of wheat, corn, and soybeans totaled 22.7 million metric tons (mmt). This represents a 27-percent decrease in outstanding sales, compared to the same time last year. Net corn export sales reached 0.969 mmt, down 22 percent from the past week. Net soybean export sales were .645 mmt, down 8 percent from the previous week. Net weekly wheat export sales reached .643 mmt, up 90 percent from the previous week.


U.S. Class I railroads originated 20,888 grain carloads during the week ending February 8. This was a 9-percent increase from the previous week, 1 percent more than last year, and 4 percent more than the 3-year average.

Average February shuttle secondary railcar bids/offers (per car) were $306 below tariff for the week ending February 13. This was $27 less than last week and $1,523 lower than this week last year. There were no non-shuttle bids/offers this week.


For the week ending February 15, barge grain movements totaled 553,054. This was a 22.8-percent increase from the previous week and 46 percent more than the same period last year.

For the week ending February 15, 374 grain barges moved down river—76 barges more than the previous week. There were 659 grain barges unloaded in New Orleans, 8 percent more than the previous week.


For the week ending February 13, 31 oceangoing grain vessels were loaded in the Gulf—18.4 percent fewer than the same period last year. Within the next 10 days (starting February 14), 47 vessels were expected to be loaded—31.9 percent fewer than the same period last year.

As of February 13, the rate for shipping a metric ton (mt) of grain from the U.S. Gulf to Japan was $42.75. This was 2 percent more than the previous week. The rate from the Pacific Northwest to Japan was $22.25 per mt, 1 percent more than the previous week.

Full report.

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