Moving Grain: STB Invites Additional Input on Rate Review Options

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

    STB Invites Additional Stakeholder Input on Rate Review Options

    On May 15, the Surface Transportation Board (STB) announced it will waive the general prohibition on ex parte (EP) communications between June 1, 2020, and July 15, 2020. The suspension of the prohibition will permit informal discussions with stakeholders on STB’s proposed rule in EP 755, Final Offer Rate Review.

    In September 2019, STB proposed a new procedure, known as “final offer rate review,” for challenging the reasonableness of railroad rates in smaller cases. Grain and other agricultural shippers have long found STB’s current rate review procedures to be inaccessible, putting effective rate relief out of reach.

    To schedule a meeting, which will be held via telephone or online conference, parties should contact STB’s Office of Public Assistance, Governmental Affairs, and Compliance at (202) 245-0238.

    OOIDA Petitions DOT To Facilitate Greater Broker Transparency

    On May 19, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) petitioned the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and DOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to initiate a rulemaking to improve broker transparency regulations.

    Noting transparency is required by 49 CFR §371.3, the petition proposes the following measures:

    • first, requiring brokers to provide automatically an electronic copy of each transaction record within 48 hours after completion of contractual service;
    • second, explicitly prohibiting brokers from including any contract provision requiring a carrier to waive its access rights (as ensured by 49 CFR §371.3) to the transaction records;
    • and finally, levying and enforcing a structured fine system for noncompliance and suspending or revoking the authority of unscrupulous brokers that show a pattern of noncompliance.

    CISA and INL Release Commercial Routing Assistance Tool for Truckers

    The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and Idaho National Laboratory (INL) launched a new free app that leverages information from the landing page for INL’s Commercial Routing Assistance (CRA) tool.

    Grain News on AgFax

    Serving U.S. truckers and other commercial drivers, the app integrates coordinated data streams to devise multiple routing options. With this information, drivers can efficiently manage trips across multiple States, optimizing the timely delivery of goods in the presence of disruptions.

    CISA funded the app, and INL developed it in partnership with industry and government operational professionals.

    Snapshots by Sector

    Export Sales

    For the week ending May 14, unshipped balances of wheat, corn, and soybeans totaled 22.6 million metric tons (mmt). This represented a 6-percent decrease in outstanding sales from the same time last year.

    Net corn export sales were 0.884 mmt, down 18 percent from the past week. Net soybean export sales were 1.205 mmt, up 99 percent from the previous week. Net weekly wheat export sales were 0.176 mmt, down 14 percent from the previous week.


    U.S. Class I railroads originated 20,790 grain carloads during the week ending May 16. This was 4 percent less than the previous week, 10 percent less than last year, and 9 percent lower than the 3-year average.

    Average June shuttle secondary railcar bids/offers (per car) were $98 below tariff for the week ending May 21. This was $36 more than last week and $76 lower than this week last year. There were no non-shuttle bids/offers this week.


    For the week ending May 23, barge grain movements totaled 791,568 tons. This was 25 percent more than the previous week and 46 percent more than the same period last year.

    For the week ending May 23, 500 grain barges moved down river— 87 more barges than the previous week. There were 646 grain barges unloaded in New Orleans, 25 percent more than the previous week.


    For the week ending May 21, 34 oceangoing grain vessels were loaded in the Gulf—6 percent fewer than the same period last year. Within the next 10 days (starting May 22), 34 vessels were expected to be loaded—19 percent fewer than the same period last year.

    As of May 21, the rate for shipping a metric ton (mt) of grain from the U.S. Gulf to Japan was $34.00. This was unchanged from the previous week. The rate from the Pacific Northwest (PNW) to Japan was $17.75 per mt, unchanged from the previous week.


    For the week ending May 25, the U.S. average diesel fuel price increased 0.4 cents from the previous week to $2.390 per gallon, 76.1 cents below the same week last year.

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