Moving Grain: Accidents Briefly Snarl Mississippi River Barge Traffic

    Grain elevator on the Mississippi River. ©Debra L Ferguson Stock Images

    Accidents Briefly Snarl Mississippi River Barge Traffic

    Two separate incidents last week caused delays for barge tows along the Mississippi River. Affecting grain barge traffic in both directions, the delays continued into this week. On Wednesday, August 12, a tug being towed by another vessel sunk at upper Mississippi mile 43 near Thebes, IL.

    Because of little clearance over the vessel, navigation through the area was restricted. On Sunday, August 16, a salvage operation lifted the wreck, and operations began returning to normal. A more minor incident occurred on Friday, August 14, at the Mel Price Lock and Dam facility near St. Louis.

    A barge struck the wall of the main lock, causing a brief closure for inspection. The auxiliary lock had already been closed for planned repairs, resulting in a brief closure of traffic through the area. The main lock reopened by the end of the day. Neither accident caused injuries according to the reports from this company.

    Mississippi River Commission To Hold Public Meetings on August 24, 26, and 28

    The Mississippi River Commission (MRC) will hold in-person public meetings on August 24 in Caruthersville, MO; on August 26 in Greenville, MS; and on August 28 in Morgan City, LA, during MRC’s annual low-water inspection trip.

    Grain News on AgFax

    The meetings will cover national and regional issues affecting U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and MRC programs and projects on the Mississippi River and its tributaries. The events will also give an overview of current project issues in the St. Louis, Memphis, and Vicksburg Districts.

    Finally, local organizations and members of the public will express their views on issues related to USACE and MRC programs and projects. The events will adhere to local COVID-19-related restrictions for face-to-face meetings. All segments will be video-recorded and posted to the MRC webpage and to each local USACE district’s webpage.

    U.S. DOT Creates Toolkit To Help Rural Grant Applicants

    On July 27, the U.S. Department of Transportation released a toolkit designed to help stakeholders participate in the Rural Opportunities to Use Transportation for Economic Success program (ROUTES). The program aims to collect input on rural infrastructure needs and share user-friendly information on applying for DOT discretionary grants.

    Designed for applicants with varying levels of experience, the toolkit aims to help rural applicants understand and navigate DOT’s discretionary grant funding opportunities. Specifically, the toolkit outlines applicant requirements and sorts grant programs by applicant type and eligible project activities.

    FMCSA Extends HOS for Livestock and Feed

    On August 11, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) extended the national, emergency hours of service (HOS) waiver for trucks transporting livestock and feed. The extension is valid through September 14. The waiver specifically does not cover drivers carrying mixed loads with only a “nominal quantity” of a waiver-qualifying item.

    Snapshots by Sector

    Export Sales

    For the week ending August 06, unshipped balances of wheat, corn, and soybeans totaled 16.2 million metric tons (mmt). This represented a 22-percent increase in outstanding sales from the same time last year. Net corn export sales were 0.377 mmt, up significantly from last week.

    Net soybean export sales were 0.570 mmt, up 65 percent from the previous week. Net wheat export sales were 0.368 mmt, down 39 percent from the previous week.


    U.S. Class I railroads originated 22,081 grain carloads during the week ending August 8. This was a 4-percent increase from the previous week, 4 percent more than last year, and 4 percent more than the 3-year average.

    Average August shuttle secondary railcar bids/offers (per car) were $300 above tariff for the week ending August 13. This was $13 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 August 15, barge grain movements totaled 921,810 tons. This was 47 percent more than the previous week and 68 percent more than the same period last year.

    For the week ending August 15, 578 grain barges moved down river—179 more barges than the previous week. There were 734 grain barges unloaded in New Orleans, 8 percent fewer than the previous week.


    For the week ending August 13, 29 oceangoing grain vessels were loaded in the U.S. Gulf—34 percent fewer than the same period last year. Within the next 10 days (starting August 14), 42 vessels were expected to be loaded—5 percent fewer than the same period last year.

    As of August 13, the rate for shipping a metric ton (mt) of grain from the U.S. Gulf to Japan was $44.50. This was 5 percent more than the previous week. The rate from the Pacific Northwest to Japan was $24.75 per mt, 7 percent more than the previous week.


    For the week ending August 17, the U.S. average diesel fuel price decreased 0.1 cents from the previous week to $2.427 per gallon, 56.7 cents below the same week last year.

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