Moving Grain: FMC Works to Alleviate Disruptions

    Mississippi River barges lines up at Port of Rosedale, Mississippi ©Debra L Ferguson

    FMC Initiates Fact Finding 29

    On April 6, the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) announced it will engage “Supply Chain Innovation Teams” to “identify actions that can provide immediate relief to the most pressing challenges the American freight delivery system faces from COVID-19 related disruptions.”

    The teams comprise key executives from all facets of the ocean cargo system. The initiative comes as part of Commissioner Rebecca Dye’s Fact Finding 29, International Ocean Transportation Supply Chain Engagement, announced last week.

    Members of the public not participating on a team, but who wish to provide advice, are encouraged to do so by writing to

    DOT’s Build America Bureau Extends Deadline for Comments

    On February 28, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Build America Bureau requested input on the design and implementation of its Regional Infrastructure Accelerators program, with a deadline of 30 days for responses.

    Grain News on AgFax

    However, because of the current COVID-19 national emergency and in response to requests, the Bureau has extended its due date to April 28, 2020. The Regional Infrastructure Accelerators program will assist entities in improving their infrastructure priorities.

    It will also help them strategize financing to accelerate development of projects eligible for funding under the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) program.

    Grain Inspections Recede From Previous Week

    For the week ending April 2, total inspections of grain (corn, wheat, and soybeans) for export from all major U.S. export regions totaled 1.9 million metric tons (mmt), according to USDA’s Federal Grain Inspection Service.

    Total grain inspections were down 9 percent from the previous week, down 25 percent from last year, and down 25 percent from the 3-year average. Compared to the previous week, corn inspections were unchanged at 1.25 mmt, but wheat and soybean inspections decreased 17 percent and 28 percent, respectively.

    Total grain inspections decreased 42 percent from the previous week in the Pacific Northwest (PNW), but increased 6 percent in the Mississippi Gulf. During the last 4 weeks, inspections of grain were 17 percent below last year and 23 percent below the 3-year average.

    Snapshots by Sector

    Export Sales

    For the week ending March 26, unshipped balances of wheat, corn, and soybeans totaled 23.7 million metric tons (mmt). This represented a 28-percent decrease in outstanding sales, compared to the same time last year. Net corn export sales were 1.075 mmt, down 41 percent from the past week.

    Net soybean export sales were 0.958 mmt, up 6 percent from the previous week. Net weekly wheat export sales were 0.073 mmt, down 90 percent from the previous week.


    U.S. Class I railroads originated 22,212 grain carloads during the week ending March 28. This is a 6-percent increase from the previous week, 2 percent less than last year, and 5 percent lower than the 3-year average.

    Average April shuttle secondary railcar bids/offers (per car) were $44 below tariff for the week ending April 2. This was $69 less than last week and $650 lower than this week last year. There were no non-shuttle bids/offers this week.


    For the week ending April 4, barge grain movements totaled 421,468. This was 18 percent less than the previous week and 17 percent less than the same period last year.

    For the week ending April 4, 267 grain barges moved down river— 43 fewer barges than the previous week. There were 634 grain barges unloaded in New Orleans, 8 percent more than the previous week.


    For the week ending April 2, 27 oceangoing grain vessels were loaded in the Gulf—10 percent fewer than the same period last year. Within the next 10 days (starting April 3), 43 vessels were expected to be loaded—2 percent fewer than the same period last year.

    As of April 2, the rate for shipping a metric ton (mt) of grain from the U.S. Gulf to Japan was $38.75. This was 1 percent less than the previous week. The rate from PNW to Japan was $19.75 per mt, 1 percent less than the previous week.


    For the week ending April 6, the U.S. average diesel fuel price decreased 3.8 cents from the previous week to $2.548 per gallon, 54.5 cents below the same week last year.

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