Moving Grain: FMC Launches Inquiry Into Ocean Container Carrier Surcharge Practices

    FMC Launches Inquiry Into Ocean Container Carrier Surcharge Practices

    On August 4, the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) launched an expedited inquiry into the practices of eight ocean container carriers with respect to certain surcharges.

    The carriers were asked to provide details confirming that any congestion or related surcharges they “implemented or announced” accorded with legal and regulatory obligations. The carriers have until August 13 to respond.

    FMC’s Bureau of Enforcement (BoE) will review their responses to determine if the carriers implemented the surcharges with proper notice, if they clearly defined the purpose, and if they identified a clear event or condition that would terminate the surcharge.

    FMC Chair Daniel Maffei stated, “I want to know the carriers’ justifications for additional fees and I strongly support close scrutiny by the FMC’s Bureau of Enforcement aimed at stopping any instance where these add-on fees may not fully comply with the law or regulation.”

    Total Grain Inspections Down but Wheat Rebounds

    For the week ending August 5, total inspections of grain (corn, wheat, and soybeans) for export from all major U.S. export regions totaled 1.41 million metric tons (mmt).

    Grain News on AgFax

    Total grain inspections were down 29 percent from the previous week, down 47 percent from last year, and down 38 percent from the 3-year average.

    Despite the drop in overall grain inspections, wheat inspections rebounded from the previous week, jumping 49 percent as shipments increased mainly to Asia. Wheat inspections were also the highest since mid-May of this year. Inspections of corn and soybeans decreased 52 and 38 percent, respectively, from the previous week primarily due to lower shipments to Asia.

    Total inspections of grain decreased 14 percent in the Pacific Northwest and 50 percent in the Mississippi Gulf.

    FHWA Announces $60 Million Available for Implementing New Transportation Technologies

    On July 7, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) issued a notice of funding opportunity for $60 million in available grants through the Advanced Transportation and Congestion Management Technologies Deployment (ATCMTD) program.

    The program’s funding helps State and local governments install advanced transportation technologies that can improve safety, efficiency, system performance, and infrastructure return on investment. Grant-receiving projects have targeted the following areas: infrastructure maintenance, monitoring, and condition assessment, transportation system performance data collection, analysis, and dissemination systems.

    Snapshots by Sector

    Export Sales

    For the week ending July 29, unshipped balances of wheat, corn, and soybeans totaled 14.1 mmt. This was 10 percent lower than last week and 21 percent lower than the same time last year.

    Net corn export sales were 0.068 mmt, down significantly from the past week. Net soybean export sales were 0.012 mmt, significantly down from the previous week. Net weekly wheat export sales were 0.308 mmt, down 40 percent from last week.


    U.S. Class I railroads originated 18,231 grain carloads during the week ending July 31. This was a 12-percent decrease from the previous week, 14 percent less than last year, and 19 percent lower than the 3-year average.

    Average August shuttle secondary railcar bids/offers (per car) were $47 below tariff for the week ending August 5. This was $104 less than last week and $334 lower than this week last year. There were no non-shuttle bids/offers this week.


    For the week ending August 7, barged grain movements totaled 544,418 tons. This was 16 percent lower than the previous week and 39 percent less than the same period last year.

    For the week ending August 7, 359 grain barges moved down river—98 fewer barges than the previous week. There were 580 grain barges unloaded in New Orleans, 11 percent fewer than the previous week.


    For the week ending August 5, 26 oceangoing grain vessels were loaded in the Gulf—28 percent fewer than the same period last year. Within the next 10 days (starting August 6), 43 vessels were expected to be loaded—7 percent fewer than the same period last year.

    As of August 5, the rate for shipping a metric ton (mt) of grain from the U.S. Gulf to Japan was $79.00. This was 2 percent less than the previous week. The rate from PNW to Japan was $43.00 per mt, unchanged from the previous week.


    For the week ending August 9, the U.S. average diesel fuel price decreased 0.3 cents from the previous week to $3.364 per gallon, 93.6 cents above the same week last year.

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