Moving Grain: Additional Illinois River Lock and Dam Sites Scheduled to Reopen

    Barges on Mississippi River. ©Debra L Ferguson

    Additional Illinois River Lock and Dam Sites Scheduled to Reopen

    The Illinois River includes eight lock and dam sites that require significant repairs such as major rehabilitation and replacement of lock machinery. To facilitate the repairs, extended closures were scheduled.

    On October 29, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will reopen Starved Rock Lock and Dam (Utica, IL) and Marseilles Lock and Dam (Marseilles, IL) after closing them in early July.

    In addition, Dresden Island Lock and Dam (Morris, IL) reopened on October 24 from full closure and on October 28 from partial closure.

    Grain Inspections Up; Soybeans Continue Above Average

    For the week ending October 22, total inspections of grain (corn, wheat, and soybeans) for export from all major U.S. export regions totaled 3.81 million metric tons (mmt). Total grain inspections were up 8 percent from the previous week, up 43 percent from last year, and up 47 percent from the 3-year average.

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    Increased inspections were driven by a 51 percent jump in wheat inspections (primarily, for Asia and Latin America) and an 18-percent increase in soybean inspections. Total soybean inspections remained 82 percent above the 3-year average. Corn inspections, however, dropped 30 percent from the previous week as shipments to Asia receded.

    In the Pacific Northwest (PNW) and Mississippi Gulf, grain inspections were up 11 percent from the previous week for each region. Compared to the same period last year, total year-to-date inspections increased 8 percent.

    FMC Investigates Implications of “Merchant” as a Term of Vessel-Operating Common Carriers

    On October 14, the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) solicited public comment on use of the term “merchant” in bills of lading for vessel-operating common carriers (VOCCs). FMC seeks input on several questions, including how the term ‘‘merchant’’ is defined in VOCC bills of lading.

    The agency also seeks to learn whether (because of the definition) third parties who are not in contractual privity with the carrier may be subject to joint or several liability.

    Finally, FMC asks whether carriers have enforced the “merchant” definition against third parties that have not consented to be bound by, or otherwise accept, the terms and conditions of the bill of lading. Comments are requested on or before November 6, 2020.

    Snapshots by Sector

    Export Sales

    For the week ending October 15, unshipped balances of wheat, corn, and soybeans totaled 62.1 million metric tons (mmt). This is a historical record for outstanding sales. Net corn export sales were 1.832 mmt, up significantly from the past week. Net soybean export sales were 2.226 mmt, down 14 percent from the previous week. Net weekly wheat export sales were 0.367 mmt, down 31 percent from the previous week.

    Rail

    U.S. Class I railroads originated 25,547 grain carloads during the week ending October 17. This was a 7-percent decrease from the previous week, 24 percent more than last year, and 18 percent more than the 3-year average.

    Average November shuttle secondary railcar bids/offers (per car) were $438 above tariff for the week ending October 22. This was $315 less than last week and $484 more than this week last year. There were no non-shuttle bids/offers this week.

    Barge

    For the week ending October 24, barge grain movements totaled 1,185,727 tons. This was 6 percent more than the previous week and 79 percent more than the same period last year.

    For the week ending October 24, 757 grain barges moved down river—58 more barges than the previous week. There were 982 grain barges unloaded in New Orleans, 5 percent more than the previous week.

    Ocean

    For the week ending October 22, 38 oceangoing grain vessels were loaded in the Gulf—6 percent more than the same period last year. Within the next 10 days (starting October 23), 56 vessels were expected to be loaded—10 percent more than the same period last year.

    As of October 22, the rate for shipping a metric ton (mt) of grain from the U.S. Gulf to Japan was $42.50. This was 1 percent less than the previous week. The rate from the Pacific Northwest (PNW) to Japan was $23.75 per mt, unchanged from the previous week.

    Fuel

    For the week ending October 26, the U.S. average diesel fuel price decreased 0.3 cents from the previous week to $2.385 per gallon, 67.9 cents below the same week last year.

    Full report.




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