Moving Grain: Congress To Address Container Shipping Challenges

    Photo: U.S. Grains Council

    Congress Introduces Legislation To Address Container Shipping Challenges

    On August 10, U.S. Representatives John Garamendi (CA) and Dusty Johnson (SD) introduced the “Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2021.” If enacted, this bipartisan legislation would be the first major update of Federal regulations for the global ocean shipping industry since 1998.

    The bill includes several measures that would address many concerns of containerized agricultural exporters: one new requirement would prohibit ocean carriers from unreasonably declining U.S. exports. Another provision would require carriers and terminals to certify compliance with Federal regulation on each “detention and demurrage” charge. A third measure would authorize the Federal Maritime Commission to self-initiate investigations of ocean carriers’ business practices and apply enforcement measures, as appropriate.

    Over the past 10 months, the deluge of containerized imports to the United States has made it extremely difficult to export containerized agricultural products.

    FHWA Announces Funding Opportunity for Innovative Highway Projects

    The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) recently announced up to $10 million in grants will be made available through a notice of funding opportunity for FHWA’s Accelerated Innovation Deployment (AID) demonstration program. These funds are used to deploy proven innovations to help maximize limited resources for road and bridge projects of State, local, and tribal governments.

    Grain News on AgFax

    The most recently awarded AID grants, announced in May 2021, include funding for projects in two major grain-producing States: Michigan ($977,398) and South Dakota ($1 million). More information on previous AID-funded projects can be found here, and information on how to apply is available here. The closing date for applications is September 28.

    STB Sets Grain Car Meeting for August 26

    On August 10, the Surface Transportation Board (STB) announced this year’s National Grain Car Council (NGCC) meeting will be held virtually on August 26. NGCC’s members represent grain shippers and receivers, private rail car owners, rail car manufacturers, and the Class I, II, and III railroads.

    The meeting will discuss grain transportation issues, including the railroads’ preparedness to transport the 2021 grain harvest. To register for the meeting and obtain more information, visit STB’s NGCC homepage.

    Snapshots by Sector

    Export Sales

    For the week ending August 5, unshipped balances of wheat, corn, and soybeans totaled 13.1 million metric tons (mmt). This was 7 percent lower than last week and 19 percent lower than the same time last year.

    Net corn export sales were 0.378 mmt, up significantly from the past week. Net soybean export sales were 0.097 mmt, significantly up from the previous week. Net weekly wheat export sales were 0.293 mmt, down 5 percent from last week.


    U.S. Class I railroads originated 18,190 grain carloads during the week ending August 7. This was unchanged from the previous week, 17 percent less than last year, and 20 percent lower than the 3-year average.

    Average August shuttle secondary railcar bids/offers (per car) were $253 below tariff for the week ending August 12. This was $206 less than last week and $553 lower than this week last year. There were no non-shuttle bids/offers this week.


    For the week ending August 14, barged grain movements totaled 538,914 tons. This was 1 percent lower than the previous week and 20 percent higher than the same period last year.

    For the week ending August 14, 334 grain barges moved down river—25 fewer barges than the previous week. There were 512 grain barges unloaded in New Orleans, 12 percent lower than the previous week.


    For the week ending August 12, 34 oceangoing grain vessels were loaded in the Gulf—17 percent more than the same period last year. Within the next 10 days (starting August 13), 34 vessels were expected to be loaded—19 percent fewer than the same period last year.

    As of August 12, the rate for shipping a metric ton (mt) of grain from the U.S. Gulf to Japan was $79.00. This was unchanged from the previous week. The rate from the Pacific Northwest to Japan was $43.00 per mt, unchanged from the previous week.


    For the week ending August 16, the U.S. average diesel fuel price decreased 0.8 cents from the previous week to $3.356 per gallon, 92.9 cents above the same week last year.

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