Moving Grain: FMC Commissioners Urge Ocean Carriers To Carry U.S. Exports

Container ships, San Francisco Bay. Photo: NOAA

FMC Commissioners Urge Ocean Carriers To Carry U.S. Exports

On December 16, Federal Maritime Commissioners (FMC) Carl W. Bentzel and Daniel B. Maffei sent a letter to the World Shipping Council (WSC) in support of U.S. exporters. The commissioners shared FMC’s growing concerns that—in the face of unprecedented import demand—ocean carriers are refusing to carry U.S. exports.

FMC’s concerns were in response to reports from U.S. exporters, USDA, and members of Congress. The letter cautioned “in responding to import cargo challenges, ocean carriers should not lose sight of their common carriage obligations to provide service to U.S. exporters.”

Representing the liner shipping industry, WSC works with policymakers and other industry groups with an interest in international transportation.

DOT Launches Regional Infrastructure Acceleration Program

The Department of Transportation (DOT) launched a new demonstration program to expedite delivery of transportation infrastructure projects through innovative finance and delivery methods.

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DOT’s Build America Bureau issued a notice of funding opportunity to designate and fund Regional Infrastructure Accelerators (Accelerators) to serve defined geographic areas and act as a resource to qualified entities within the designated areas.

The demo program also aims to show the effectiveness of these Accelerators in expediting the delivery of eligible projects through Federal credit assistance programs, including the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act and other innovative financing methods. A total of $5 million is available for the program.

FMCSA Extends Emergency Hours-of-Service Waiver for Livestock and Feed

On December 1, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) extended the waiver on hours-of-service (HOS) requirements for trucks transporting livestock and feed.

The waiver is based on the national emergency declared for COVID-19, and the extension is valid through February 28, 2021. The agency also emphasized that the declaration does not empower motor carriers to make truckers haul a load when they say they are tired.

Snapshots by Sector

Export Sales

For the week ending December 24, unshipped balances of wheat, corn, and soybeans totaled 53.1 million metric tons (mmt). This was 4 percent lower than last week, but still represented a significant increase in outstanding sales from the same time last year.

Net corn export sales were 0.965 mmt, up 48 percent from the past week. Net soybean export sales were 0.695 mmt, up 97 percent from the previous week. Net wheat export sales were 0.521 mmt, up 32 percent from the previous week.

Rail

U.S. Class I railroads originated 21,769 grain carloads during the week ending December 26. This was a 16-percent decrease from the previous week, 40 percent more than last year, and 16 percent more than the 3-year average.

Average January shuttle secondary railcar bids/offers (per car) were $484 above tariff for the week ending December 31. This was $84 less than last week and $901 more than this week last year. There were no non-shuttle bids/offers this week.

Barge

For the week ending January 2, barge grain movements totaled 836,304 tons. This was 17 percent lower than the previous week and 41 percent more than the same period last year.

For the week ending January 2, 517 grain barges moved down river—62 barges fewer than the previous week. There were 1,049 grain barges unloaded in New Orleans, 14 percent more than the previous week.

Ocean

For the week ending December 31, 40 oceangoing grain vessels were loaded in the Gulf—38 percent more than the same period last year. Within the next 10 days (starting January 1, 2021), 66 vessels were expected to be loaded—50 percent more than the same period last year.

As of December 31, 2020, the rate for shipping a metric ton (mt) of grain from the U.S. Gulf to Japan was $42.00. This was unchanged from the last available rate on December 17. The rate from the Pacific Northwest to Japan was $23.75 per mt, unchanged from the last available rate on December 17.

Fuel

For the week ending January 4, the U.S. average diesel fuel price increased 0.5 cents from the previous week to $2.640 per gallon, 43.9 cents below the same week last year.

Full report.




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