Moving Grain: Illinois River Closures Scheduled This Summer

    Photo: Iowa Farm Bureau

    Illinois River Closures Scheduled This Summer

    U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has announced that shutdowns on the Illinois River system will take place from July through October to allow rehabilitation on five locks.

    The locks provide a navigable link between Lake Michigan and the Mississippi River north of St. Louis. To lessen the impact on commercial navigation, closures will be done concurrently.

    Affected locks and dams and their closure dates are as follows: La Grange Lock and Dam, July 1-September 30; Peoria Lock and Dam, July 6-September 30; Starved Rock Lock and Dam, July 1-October 29; Marseilles Lock and Dam, July 6-October 29; and Dresden Island Lock and Dam, partial closure for July 6-October 3 and October 25-28 and full closure for October 4-24.

    FMCSA Issues Final Rule on Changes to HOS Regulations

    The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued its final rule on changes to driver hours-of-service (HOS) regulations, effective 120 days after publication in the Federal Register.

    The main revisions include the following:

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    First, the rule gives more flexibility to the 30-minute break rule by requiring a break after 8 hours of consecutive driving. Also, “on-duty, not driving” status, rather than “off-duty” status may be used for breaks.

    Second, the rule modifies the sleeper-berth rule by allowing drivers to split their required 10 hours off duty (per 24 hours) into two periods. The split could be either 8/2 or 7/3, with neither period counting against the driver’s 14-hour driving window. The maximum adverse driving conditions window is extended by 2 hours.

    Third, the rule increases short-haul drivers’ maximum on-duty period from 12 hours to 14 hours. Further, the rule extends the distance limit the short-haul driver may operate from 100 air miles (115.08 miles) to 150 air miles (172.6 miles).

    FMCSA expects the rule to produce $274 million in annualized cost savings for the U.S. economy.

    Total Grain Inspections Down but Wheat Rebounds

    For the week ending May 14, total inspections of grain (corn, wheat, and soybeans) for export from all major U.S. export regions were 2 million metric tons (mmt). Total grain inspections were down 15 percent from the previous week, down 11 percent from last year, and down 13 percent from the 3-year average.

    Wheat inspections rose 28 percent despite the drop in total grain inspections. Shipments of wheat increased, primarily to Asia. From the previous week, corn inspections decreased 18 percent and soybean inspections decreased 34 percent.

    From the previous week, total grain inspections decreased 8 percent in the Pacific Northwest (PNW) and decreased 23 percent in the Mississippi Gulf. In the last 4 weeks, inspections of grain were 7 percent below last year and 11 percent below the 3-year average.

    Snapshots by Sector

    Export Sales

    For the week ending May 7, unshipped balances of wheat, corn, and soybeans totaled 22.5 million metric tons (mmt). This represented an 11-percent decrease in outstanding sales from the same time last year.

    Net corn export sales were 1.073 mmt, down 39 percent from the past week. Net soybean export sales were 0.656 mmt, unchanged from the previous week. Net weekly wheat export sales were 0.204 mmt, down 17 percent from the previous week.


    U.S. Class I railroads originated 21,626 grain carloads during the week ending May 9. This was a 5-percent decrease from the previous week, 11 percent less than last year, and 8 percent lower than the 3-year average.

    Average May shuttle secondary railcar bids/offers (per car) were $144 below tariff for the week ending May 14. This was $69 more than last week. There were no shuttle bids/offers this week last year. There were no non-shuttle bids/offers this week.


    For the week ending May 16, barge grain movements totaled 633,750 tons. This was 20 percent less than the previous week and 72 percent more than the same period last year.

    For the week ending May 16, 413 grain barges moved down river—93 fewer barges than the previous week. There were 515 grain barges unloaded in New Orleans, 20 percent less than the previous week.


    For the week ending May 14, 29 oceangoing grain vessels were loaded in the Gulf—unchanged from the same period last year. Within the next 10 days (starting May 15), 48 vessels were expected to be loaded—9 percent fewer than the same period last year.

    As of May 14, the rate for shipping a metric ton (mt) of grain from the U.S. Gulf to Japan was $34.00. This was 3 percent less than the previous week. The rate from PNW to Japan was $17.75 per mt, 3 percent less than the previous week.


    For the week ending May 18, the U.S. average diesel fuel price decreased 0.8 cents from the previous week to $2.386 per gallon, 77.7 cents below the same week last year.

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