Moving Grain: Lawsuit Alleges Overcharges, Restrictions for Chassis at Ports, Inland Terminals

©Debra L Ferguson Stock Images

Lawsuit filed Alleging Overcharges and Restrictions for Chassis at Ports and Inland Terminals

The American Trucking Associations’ Intermodal Motor Carriers Conference (IMCC) recently filed a lawsuit against the Ocean Carrier Equipment Management Association (OECMA) and 10 international ocean carriers. The suit alleges the defendants illegally colluded to manipulate the intermodal chassis market at dozens of ports across the country.

Filed with the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC), the lawsuit seeks up to $1.8 billion in damages. In the complaint, IMCC alleges OCEMA denies choice by trucking companies in leasing chassis. The complaint further contends OCEMA forces trucking companies to pay unjust and unreasonable prices.

The lawsuit comes after months of unsuccessful negotiation between the two parties. The lawsuit can be viewed here. FMC stated it will make a final decision on the case by March 10, 2022.

ATRI Launches 2020 Top Industry Issues Survey

In its 2020 Top Industry Issues Survey (open until October 16), the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) asks trucking industry stakeholders to rank the top issues of concern for the industry, along with potential strategies for addressing each issue.

In addition to ranking overall issues, the survey provides details on where critical topics are ranked differently by motor carriers and professional drivers, and allows stakeholders to monitor issues over time to better understand which issues are rising, or falling priorities.

CARB Approves Update to “At Berth” Regulation

On August 27, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) approved updates to its 2007 “At Berth” regulation, further reducing pollution from oceangoing vessels while they are docked at California’s busiest ports.

Grain News on AgFax

The revised regulation requires every vessel (rather than only select categories) docked in a regulated California port to use either shore power—i.e., the local electrical grid—or a CARB-approved control technology to reduce harmful emissions. The updated regulation adds auto carriers and tankers, which may be used for ethanol, to existing, already covered categories (i.e., container, reefer, and cruise vessels).

Auto carriers and tankers docking at the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach will need to comply starting in 2025, and tankers in Northern California have until 2027.

Grain Inspections Down but Above 4-Week and 3-year Averages

For the week ending September 10, total inspections of grain (corn, wheat, and soybeans) for export from all major U.S. export regions totaled 2.83 million metric tons (mmt). Total grain inspections were down 8 percent from the previous week, up 71 percent from last year, and up 27 percent from the 3-year average.

Inspections were down 9 percent from the previous week for wheat; down 12 percent for soybeans; and down 1 percent for corn. Mississippi Gulf grain inspections decreased 12 percent from the previous week, and Pacific Northwest (PNW) grain inspections decreased 11 percent.

During the last four weeks however, inspections were 28 percent above last year and 18 percent above the 3-year average as shipments destined to Asia and Latin America remained strong.

Snapshots by Sector

Export Sales

For the week ending September 3, unshipped balances of wheat, corn, and soybeans totaled 53.6 million metric tons (mmt). This represented a significant increase in outstanding sales from the same time last year.

Net corn export sales for the new marketing year which began September 1, were 1.8 mmt. Net soybean export sales for the new marketing year which began September 1 were 3.2 mmt. Net weekly wheat export sales were 0.484 mmt, down 17 percent from the previous week.


U.S. Class I railroads originated 23,003 grain carloads during the week ending September 5. This was a 6-percent increase from the previous week, 32 percent more than last year, and 24 percent more than the 3-year average.

Average September shuttle secondary railcar bids/offers (per car) were $800 above tariff for the week ending September 10. This was $244 more than last week and $994 more than this week last year. There were no non-shuttle bids/offers this week.


For the week ending September 12, barge grain movements totaled 803,640 tons. This was 1 percent more than the previous week and 9 percent more than the same period last year.

For the week ending September 12, 514 grain barges moved down river—4 more barges than the previous week. There were 912 grain barges unloaded in New Orleans, 11 percent more than the previous week.


For the week ending September 10, 43 oceangoing grain vessels were loaded in the Gulf—43 percent more than the same period last year. Within the next 10 days (starting September 11), 65 vessels were expected to be loaded—63 percent more than the same period last year.

As of September 10, the rate for shipping a metric ton (mt) of grain from the U.S. Gulf to Japan was $44.00. This was 2 percent less than the previous week. The rate from the Pacific Northwest (PNW) to Japan was $24.00 per mt, 3 percent less than the previous week.


For the week ending September 14, the U.S. average diesel fuel price decreased 1.3 cents from the previous week to $2.422 per gallon, 56.5 cents below the same week last year.

Full report.

The Latest

Send press releases to

View All Events

Send press releases to

View All Events