Moving Grain: Funding Available for Marine Highway Projects

    Photo: USACE

    Funding Available for Marine Highway Projects From DOT’s Maritime Administration

    The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration (MARAD) recently announced the availability of $11 million in grants through America’s Marine Highway Program (AMHP).

    Established in 2007, AMHP supports increasing use of the Nation’s inland waterways, relieving landside congestion, providing new and efficient transportation options, and raising the productivity of the surface transportation system. From 2015 to 2019, the average annual tonnage of bulk grain moved through the U.S. domestic waterways system was 77 million tons.

    Since its inception, AMHP has designated 45 marine highway projects, 21 of which are currently operating. Only marine highway projects previously designated by the Secretary of Transportation are eligible to receive AMHP funding, and applications are due by 5 pm on June 25.

    STB Asks Class I Railroads To Keep Reporting Revenues From Demurrage and Accessorial Charges

    The Surface Transportation Board (STB) recently requested Class I railroads to continue providing quarterly information about their revenues from demurrage and accessorial charges. STB first requested this information in 2018, in response to informal shipper complaints about unreasonable railroad demurrage and accessorial practices.

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    Railroads charge these fees when shippers hold cars too long or require additional service, such as train diversions. However, railroads sometimes charge these fees even when delays are not the shipper’s fault, but rather result from broader rail service issues. Average Class I accessorial and demurrage revenue, as a share of total revenue, has trended upward from 2.5 percent, in first quarter 2018, to 3 percent, in fourth quarter 2020.

    In recent months, shippers have complained of unreasonable, accumulating fees amid congestion and service issues. This latest request follows STB letters sent to the railroads expressing concern over recent reports of subpar service.

    FMC Welcomes Applications for Its National Shipper Advisory Committee

    On June 7, the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) announced it is accepting applications for its National Shipper Advisory Committee (NSAC). Eligible applicants—who export cargo from or import to the United States—have until June 30, 2021 to submit the necessary documentation and meet all application requirements.

    Composed of 24 members (12 exporters and 12 importers), NSAC will meet at least once a year. The committee will advise FMC on policies related to the competitiveness, reliability, integrity, and fairness of the international ocean freight delivery system. Volunteer committee members will serve up to 3 years depending on when they are appointed.

    Snapshots by Sector

    Export Sales

    For the week ending May 27, unshipped balances of wheat, corn, and soybeans totaled 23.2 million metric tons (mmt). This was 8 percent lower than last week, but 12 percent higher than the same time last year.

    Net corn export sales were 0.531 mmt, down 5 percent from the past week. Net soybean export sales were 0.018 mmt, down 68 percent from the previous week. Net weekly wheat export sales were −0.033 mmt, down significantly from the previous week.


    U.S. Class I railroads originated 25,450 grain carloads during the week ending May 29. This was unchanged from the previous week, 20 percent more than last year, and 13 percent more than the 3-year average.

    Average June shuttle secondary railcar bids/offers (per car) were $304 below tariff for the week ending June 3. This was $23 less than last week and $273 lower than this week last year. There were no non-shuttle bids/offers this week.


    For the week ending June 5, barged grain movements totaled 1,122,722 tons. This was 30 percent more than the previous week and 47 percent more than the same period last year.

    For the week ending June 5, 703 grain barges moved down river—168 more barges than the previous week. There were 600 grain barges unloaded in New Orleans, 23 percent fewer than the previous week.


    For the week ending June 3, 36 oceangoing grain vessels were loaded in the Gulf—16 percent more than the same period last year. Within the next 10 days (starting June 4), 49 vessels were expected to be loaded—2 percent more than the same period last year.

    As of June 3, 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 to Japan was $38.25 per mt, 1 percent less than the previous week.


    For the week ending June 7, the U.S. average diesel fuel price increased 1.9 cents from the previous week to $3.274 per gallon, 87.8 cents above the same week last year.

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