Moving Grain: ADM to Open Soybean Crush Plant in North Dakota

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ADM Announces Plan To Open Soybean Crush Plant in North Dakota

On May 10, the Archer-Daniels-Midland Company (ADM) announced plans to open North Dakota’s first soybean crush facility in Spiritwood, ND.

ADM’s plant will have the capacity to process 150,000 bushels of soybeans into soybean meal and oil per day. ADM anticipates the plant will open in the fall of 2023. Spiritwood, ND, is located on a BNSF rail line and is just north of I-94.

Adding soybean processing capacity to North Dakota in the future may alter the regional supply and demand structure for rail and truck transportation.

Illinois Releases Highway Improvement Program for FY 2022-27

On May 19, the State of Illinois released its proposed highway improvement program for fiscal years (FY) 2022-27. The program allocates $20.7 billion in total investment, including $3.3 billion for fiscal year 2022. Over the next 6 years, the plan aims to improve 2,779 miles of roadway and 7.9 million square feet of bridge deck. Additionally, $42 million is allocated for upgrading local truck routes.

Other major investments include $5.79 billion for roadway reconstruction and preservation, $4.82 billion for bridge improvements, and $2.59 billion for roadway expansion efforts. According to the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, about 8.8 percent of Illinois’s bridges are classified as structurally deficient.

The planned investment is funded by Rebuild Illinois—an infrastructure improvement initiative approved in 2019 that supports investment in road and bridges.

Increase in Maximum Length for Vessels Transiting Neopanamax Locks

On May 21, 2021, the Panama Canal Authority announced an increase to the maximum allowable length for vessels transiting the Neopanamax locks. Effective immediately, the maximum overall length for commercial and non-commercial vessels that will be accepted for regular transits of the locks is 370.33 meters (1,215 feet).

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Vessels measuring 367.28-370.33 meters (1,205-1,215 feet) must be equipped with a fully operational bow thruster—a propulsion device that aids ship’s maneuverability. If a vessel in this longer but still allowed range lacks the bow thruster, it may be assigned additional resources (including tugboat assistance) at the vessel’s expense and be subject to transit delays.

Such vessels will be assigned an extra, assistive tug when approaching Agua Clara locks from Gatun Lake (northbound). The Panama Canal is a vital outlet for U.S. grain and other container shipments destined for Asia.

Snapshots by Sector

Export Sales

For the week ending May 20, unshipped balances of wheat, corn, and soybeans totaled 25.3 million metric tons (mmt). This was 7 percent lower than last week but 15 percent higher than the same time last year.

Net corn export sales were 0.556 mmt, up significantly from the past week. Net soybean export sales were 0.056 mmt, down 34 percent from the previous week. Net weekly wheat export sales were 0.029 mmt, down 76 percent from the previous week.


U.S. Class I railroads originated 25,396 grain carloads during the week ending May 22. This was unchanged from the previous week, 16 percent more than last year, and 14 percent more than the 3-year average.

Average June shuttle secondary railcar bids/offers (per car) were $281 below tariff for the week ending May 27. This was $38 less than last week and $188 lower than this week last year. There were no non-shuttle bids/offers this week.


For the week ending May 29, barge grain movements totaled 860,760 tons. This was 16 percent less than the previous week and 9 percent more than the same period last year.

For the week ending May 29, 535 grain barges moved down river— 43 fewer barges than the previous week. There were 777 grain barges unloaded in New Orleans, 9 percent higher than the previous week.


For the week ending May 27, 33 ocean going grain vessels were loaded in the Gulf—15 percent fewer than the same period last year. Within the next 10 days (starting May 28), 38 vessels were expected to be loaded—10 percent fewer than the same period last year.

As of May 27, the rate for shipping a metric ton (mt) of grain from the U.S. Gulf to Japan was $66.00. This was unchanged from the previous week. The rate from the Pacific Northwest (PNW) to Japan was $38.50 per mt, unchanged from the previous week.


For the week ending May 31, the U.S. average diesel fuel price increased 0.2 cents from the previous week to $3.255 per gallon, 86.9 cents above the same week last year.

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