Moving Grain: State-by-State Infrastructure Needs

    Mississippi River Lock and Dam number 7 - From USGS

    White House Releases State-by-State Fact Sheet Highlighting Infrastructure Needs

    The White House released State-by-State fact sheets highlighting the urgent need for infrastructure investments across the country. For each of the 50 States, District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, an individual fact sheet highlights the number of bridges and miles of road in poor condition.

    Each individual fact sheet also details the investment required for that particular region to improve infrastructure resiliency and adapt to extreme weather events, among other infrastructure needs.

    STB Adopts Final Rule on Demurrage Billing Requirements

    The Surface Transportation Board (STB) adopted a final rule effective October 6, 2021, requiring Class I carriers to include certain minimum information on demurrage invoices and provide machine-readable access to this information. Railroads charge demurrage fees when shippers hold cars beyond a specified time.

    However, shippers have expressed concerns that railroad invoicing practices can be difficult to verify and lack basic information about the shipments covered. The rule requires the demurrage invoice to include (among other details) the date and time the railroad received the cars, the date and time of the original estimated arrival, the actual placement and release of each car, and where applicable, the number of demurrage credits and debits attributable to each car.

    FMC Announces Rulemaking for Common Carrier Tariffs

    The Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) recently issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking seeking public comment on the reasonableness of fees charged to access an ocean carrier’s public tariff.

    Grain News on AgFax

    Carrier tariffs contain common carrier rates, charges, classifications, rules, and practices, which shippers can default to once contract terms are fulfilled. FMC seeks to understand why carriers’ fees and minimum requirements to access the online tariff systems vary and the impact of such variance.

    Further, the agency would like to know whether existing fees or requirements are unreasonable. FMC seeks additional information from industry stakeholders on why certain non-vessel-operating common carriers apply “pass-through charges” inconsistently under common carrier tariffs.

    The deadline for submitting comments is June 7, 2021.

    Scheduled Lock Maintenance on Panama Canal Reduces Transit Capacity

    On April 27, 2021, the Agua Clara NeoPanamax Locks on the Panama Canal will be closed for 6 hours, for maintenance and repair work. During this time, the estimated transit capacity of the NeoPanamax Locks will be 8-9 vessels per day, rather than the normal capacity of 9-11 vessels.

    Capacity (whether normal or constricted) depends on the types of vessels transiting, transit restrictions, and other factors. At this time, no major delays are anticipated.

    Snapshots by Sector

    Export Sales

    For the week ending April 1, unshipped balances of wheat, corn, and soybeans totaled 41.0 million metric tons (mmt). This was 5 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 0.757 mmt, down 5 percent from the past week. Net soybean export sales were −0.092 mmt, down significantly from the previous week. Net wheat export sales were 0.082 mmt, down 67 percent from the previous week.


    U.S. Class I railroads originated 25,679 grain carloads during the week ending April 3. This was a 5-percent increase from the previous week, 23 percent more than last year, and 16 percent more than the 3-year average.

    Average April shuttle secondary railcar bids/offers (per car) were $505 above tariff for the week ending April 8. This was $301 more than last week and $505 more than this week last year. There were no non-shuttle bids/offers this week.


    For the week ending April 10, barge grain movements totaled 902,995 tons. This was 16 percent higher than the previous week and 114 percent higher than the same period last year.

    For the week ending April 10, 605 grain barges moved down river—108 barges more than the previous week. There were 644 grain barges unloaded in New Orleans, 8 percent lower than the previous week.


    For the week ending April 8, 36 oceangoing grain vessels were loaded in the Gulf—16 percent more than the same period last year. Within the next 10 days (starting April 9, 2021), 45 vessels were expected to be loaded—12 percent less than the same period last year.

    As of April 8, the rate for shipping a metric ton of grain from the U.S. Gulf to Japan was $60.00. This was 1 percent less than the previous week. The rate from the Pacific Northwest to Japan was $35.50 per metric ton, 1 percent less than the previous week.


    For the week ending April 12, the U.S. average diesel fuel price decreased 1.5 cents from the previous week to $3.129 per gallon, 62.2 cents above the same week last year.

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