Moving Grain: DOT Requests Information on U.S. Transportation Supply Chains

Mississippi River Port ©Debra L Ferguson Stock Photography

Requests Information on America’s Transportation Supply Chains

On September 16, the Department of Transportation (DOT) published a notice requesting information from the public to prepare a report required by President Biden’s recent executive order (EO) on “America’s Supply Chains.” Per the EO, the Secretary of Transportation must submit to the President, within 1 year, a report on transportation-sector supply chains.

Incorporating the work of the President’s Supply Chains Disruption Task Force, DOT’s report will focus on the freight and logistics sector, with the aim of increasing resilience among transportation supply chains.

With a deadline of October 18, DOT requests “practical solutions” from a broad range of stakeholders to address current and future supply-chain resilience challenges in the freight and logistics sector. To the extent possible, DOT will consider comments received after the October 18 deadline.

Department of Defense Has Approved Inland Waterways Users Board To Resume Operations

The Department of Defense (DoD) recently approved the Inland Waterways Users Board (IWUB) to resume its operations, pending DoD’s further instructions to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). After suspending IWUB in February, DoD conducted a systematic review to ensure IWUB’s efforts remained focused on the most pressing strategic priorities of the National Defense Strategy.

As a legislative advisory committee, IWUB recommends (to USACE and Congress) investment priorities using resources from the Inland Waterways Trust Fund (Fund) and monitors the Fund. USACE’s director of Civil Works serves as IWUB executive director. The assistant secretary of the Army for the Civil Works serves as IWUB’s interagency observer, along with representatives of the Maritime Administration, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and USDA.

Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach Unveil Plan To Reduce Congestion

The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach recently announced they will expand the hours during which trucks can pick up and return containers. Offered on a pilot basis, the expanded hours will be monitored to ensure gate availability meets cargo demand.

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The extra hours will improve terminal efficiency by maximizing nighttime operation at Long Beach and expanding weekend gate hours at Los Angeles. Besides expanding hours of operation as described, the ports are working closely with the White House Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force to alleviate bottlenecks and expedite the movement of goods.

The ports expect their actions to expand opportunities for U.S. exporters, including agricultural producers. Approximately 30 percent of containerized agricultural exports move through the Los Angeles and Long Beach port complex.

Snapshots by Sector

Export Sales

For the week ending September 9, unshipped balances of wheat, corn, and soybeans for marketing year 2021/22 totaled 50.3 million metric tons (mmt) down 8 percent from same time last year.

Net corn export sales for the new marketing year, which began September 1, were 0.247 mmt. Net soybean export sales for the new marketing year, which began September 1, were 1.264 mmt. Net weekly wheat export sales were 0.617 mmt, up 59 percent from last week.


U.S. Class I railroads originated 16,718 grain carloads during the week ending September 11. This was unchanged from the previous week, 22 percent less than last year, and 16 percent lower than the 3-year average.

Average October shuttle secondary railcar bids/offers (per car) were $955 above tariff for the week ending September 16. This was $251 less than last week and $270 lower than this week last year. There were no non-shuttle bids/offers this week.


For the week ending September 18, barged grain movements totaled 168,892 tons. This was 4 percent lower than the previous week and 79 percent lower than the same period last year.

For the week ending September 18, 114 grain barges moved down river—no change from the previous week. There were 256 grain barges unloaded in New Orleans.


For the week ending September 16, 7 oceangoing grain vessels were loaded in the Gulf—79 percent fewer than the same period last year. Within the next 10 days (starting September 17), 28 vessels were expected to be loaded—56 percent fewer than the same period last year. Lower vessel counts are partly due to incomplete data because of Hurricane Ida.

As of September 16, the rate for shipping a metric ton (mt) of grain from the U.S. Gulf to Japan was $81.50. This was 2 percent more than the previous week. The rate from the Pacific Northwest to Japan was $45.00 per mt, 2 percent more than the previous week.


For the week ending September 20, the U.S. average diesel fuel price increased by 1.30 cents from the previous week to $3.385 per gallon, 98.1 cents above the same week last year. At $3.29 per gallon, Midwest diesel prices were the highest since October 2018.

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