Moving Grain: Total Grain Inspections Increase

Barge traffic on the Mississippi River - Port of New Orleans. Photo: USDA

Total Grain Inspections Increase

For the week ending May 28, total inspections of grain (corn, wheat, and soybeans) for export from all major U.S. export regions totaled 2.1 million metric tons (mmt).

Total grain inspections were up 6 percent from the previous week, up 9 percent from last year, and down 13 percent from the 3-year average. Compared to the previous week, inspections were up 7 percent for wheat, up 3 percent for corn, and up 16 percent for soybeans.

Grain inspections increased 31 percent from the previous week in the Pacific Northwest (PNW) and increased 14 percent in the Mississippi Gulf.

During the last 4 weeks, inspections of grain were 5 percent below last year and 12 percent below the 3-year average. Year-to-date inspections of grain were down 9 percent from the previous week.

Last Week’s Diesel Fuel Prices Recovered Previous Week’s Losses

During the week ending June 1 (last week), U.S. average on-highway diesel fuel prices averaged $2.386 per gallon. During the week ending May 25, prices rose 0.4 cents per gallon, but then fell by the same amount last week (restoring value to shippers).

Prices were 75 cents per gallon lower than the same week last year. Since mid-January, prices have fallen 69.3 cents per gallon. According to the Department of Energy’s latest Short-Term Energy Outlook, “Reduced economic activity related to the COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant changes in energy supply and demand patterns.

Crude oil prices, in particular, have fallen significantly since the beginning of 2020, largely driven by reduced oil demand because of COVID-19 mitigation efforts.” Crude oil prices averaged $18 per barrel in April, a decrease of more than $45 per barrel since the beginning of the year.

Study on Nation’s Rural Transportation Challenges

TRIP, a nonprofit transportation-research organization, recently published a study, Rural Connections: Challenges and Opportunities in America’s Heartland. The report begins by highlighting the importance of transportation in moving agricultural goods to the rural economy.

Grain News on AgFax

The authors also identify and discuss challenges affecting rural transportation, such as funding, safety, deficient road and bridge conditions, and connectivity. Regarding the Nation’s rural roads, highways, and bridges, the authors find “significant deficiencies and deterioration” exist.

They find pavements were “in poor condition” on 13 percent of rural roads (in 2018) and nearly 1 in 12 rural bridges were rated as “poor or structurally deficient” (in 2019).

Snapshots by Sector

Export Sales

For the week ending May 21, unshipped balances of wheat, corn, and soybeans totaled 21.9 mmt. This represented a 4-percent decrease in outstanding sales from the same time last year. Net corn export sales were 0.427 mmt, down 52 percent from the past week.

Net soybean export sales were 0.644 mmt, down 47 percent from the previous week. Net weekly wheat export sales were 0.210 mmt, up 19 percent from the previous week.


U.S. Class I railroads originated 21,977 grain carloads during the week ending May 23. This was 6 percent higher than the previous week, 2 percent less than last year, and 9 percent lower than the 3-year average.

Average June shuttle secondary railcar bids/offers (per car) were $94 below tariff for the week ending May 28. This was $4 more than last week and $249 lower than this week last year. There were no non-shuttle bids/offers this week.


For the week ending May 30, barge grain movements totaled 764,310 tons. This was 3 percent less than the previous week and 180 percent more than the same period last year.

For the week ending May 30, 488 grain barges moved down river—12 fewer barges than the previous week. There were 615 grain barges unloaded in New Orleans, 5 percent less than the previous week.


For the week ending May 28, 39 oceangoing grain vessels were loaded in the U.S. Gulf—50 percent more than the same period last year. Within the next 10 days (starting May 29), 42 vessels were expected to be loaded—18 percent fewer than the same period last year.

As of May 28, the rate for shipping a metric ton (mt) of grain from the U.S. Gulf to Japan was $34.25. This was 1 percent more than the previous week. The rate from PNW to Japan was $18.00 per mt, 1 percent more than the previous week.

Full report.

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