Moving Grain: Port of Brownsville Receives $14.5Mln Infrastructure Grant

Barge and ship traffic transport export cargo on the Mississippi River in the Port of New Orleans. Photo: Bob Nichols, USDA

Port of Brownsville Receives $14.5 Million Grant

Through its Port Infrastructure Development Program, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration awarded a $14.5 million infrastructure grant to the Port of Brownsville to expand and upgrade its 3-million-bushel grain elevator, including rail and road improvements.

A deep-water seaport on the U.S.-Mexico border in Brownsville, TX, the Port of Brownsville provides a major trade channel between the U.S. and Mexico. The improvements are expected to offer all grain producers from the Rio Grande Valley and other parts of Texas and the United States a new, cost-efficient option to export goods around the world.

Export Sales Reach Historic Highs

For the week ending October 29, outstanding (unshipped) export sales of corn, wheat, and soybeans reached 64 million metric tons (mmt)—an historical record, up 2 percent from last week and almost triple the same time last year.

The increase in export sales was driven mainly by increased exports of corn and soybeans to China. Also, during the last four weeks, unshipped export sales averaged about 63 mmt, 160 percent above last year.

Total commitments of corn to China reached 10.8 mmt, compared to just 0.06 mmt last year and the 3-year average of 0.3 mmt. Total soybean commitments reached 26.8 mmt, more than triple (7.1 mmt) the same time last year and 28 percent higher than the 3-year average.

ATRI Releases Top Trucking Industry Issues Report

The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) recently released its 16th Top Industry Issues report. Truck drivers, motor carriers, and other stakeholders were among the 3,222 respondents surveyed about issues facing the trucking industry. Driver shortage was the top issue of concern for the 4th consecutive year, followed by truck parking, driver compensation and retention, and (for the first time since 2005) insurance costs. Tort reform was also in the survey’s top 10 concerns for the first time since 2011.

FMCSA Requests Comments on Project To Collect Opinions on ADS Technologies

On November 3, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requested comments on a proposed project to collect baseline opinions of automated driving systems (ADS) before and after hands-on demonstrations with ADS technologies.

The Trucking Fleet Concept of Operations (CONOPS) for Managing Mixed Fleet will survey approximately 2,000 people, including commercial motor vehicle (CMV) fleet managers, CMV sales personnel, State and Federal government personnel, industry engineers, researchers, and CMV drivers. The deadline for submitting comments is January 4, 2021.

Snapshots by Sector

Export Sales

For the week ending October 29, unshipped balances of wheat, corn, and soybeans totaled 64.0 million metric tons (mmt). This surpassed last week’s previous record high for outstanding sales. Net corn export sales were 2.611 mmt, up 16 percent from the past week. Net soybean export sales were 1.531 mmt, down 6 percent from the previous week. Net weekly wheat export sales were 0.597 mmt, down 20 percent from the previous week.


U.S. Class I railroads originated 27,002 grain carloads during the week ending October 31. This was a 4-percent increase from the previous week, 24 percent more than last year, and 25 percent more than the 3-year average. Average November shuttle secondary railcar bids/offers (per car) were $365 above tariff for the week ending November 5. This was $123 less than last week and $296 more than this week last year. There were no non-shuttle bids/offers this week.


For the week ending November 7, barge grain movements totaled 925,624 tons. This was 4 percent less than the previous week and 24 percent more than the same period last year.

For the week ending November 7, 608 grain barges moved down river—14 barges more than the previous week. There were 949 grain barges unloaded in New Orleans, 32 percent higher than the previous week.


For the week ending November 5, 35 oceangoing grain vessels were loaded in the Gulf—10 percent fewer than the same period last year. Within the next 10 days (starting November 6), 61 vessels were expected to be loaded—61 percent more than the same period last year.

As of November 5, the rate for shipping a metric ton (mt) of grain from the U.S. Gulf to Japan was $42.25. This was 1 percent less than the previous week. The rate from the Pacific Northwest (PNW) to Japan was $23.25 per mt, 1 percent less than the previous week.


For the week ending November 9, the U.S. average diesel fuel price increased 1.1 cents from the previous week to $2.383 per gallon, 69.0 cents below the same week last year.

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