U.S. Grain Transportation: Mississippi Gulf Inspections Stay Strong

    For the week ending May 22, total inspections of grain (corn, wheat, and soybeans) for export from all major port regions reached 1.75 million metric tons (mmt), down 4 percent from the past week, 82 percent above last year, and 10 percent above the 3-year average.

    Wheat and soybean inspections decreased 14 and 48 percent from the past week, but corn inspections increased 9 percent as shipments to Asia and Latin America rebounded.

    Despite the drop in total inspections of grain, inspections in the Mississippi Gulf remained strong, increasing 24 percent from the previous week and 87 percent above the same time last year. Corn inspections in the Mississippi Gulf jumped 40 percent from the past week and accounted for 90 percent of total grain inspected in the region.

    Pacific Northwest grain inspections decreased 36 percent from the past week, the lowest since January 2.

    Grain Loading Activity Slows; Vessel Activity Outlook Mixed

    For 5 consecutive weeks, ending May 22, grain vessel loading activity has slowed in the U.S Gulf and Pacific Northwest (PNW ). Only 39 ocean-going grain vessels were loading or waiting to be loaded during the week ending May 22, compared to 88 during the peak week ending February 27.

    Just 29 vessels were loaded during the previous 7 days, compared to the highest of 52 during the week ending January 23. Forty-six vessels are expected to be loaded in the next 10 days–compared to 97 during the two consecutive weeks ending on January 30 and February 6.

    In the PNW, only 6 grain vessels were loading compared to 26 vessels during the pea k week ending on February 20. The slowdown in vessel loading activity can be attributed to many factors including reduced grain exports, typical seasonal slow-down and scheduled maintenance at some of the export elevators. Vessel activity outlook is mixed: U.S. wheat exports are projected lower, soybean exports are typically lower this time of year because of the abundant new-crop Brazilian soybeans; however, corn export activity is expected to remain strong the rest of the marketing year as unshipped balances remain high.

    STB Announces Montana Meeting on Rail Service Issues

    On June 11, representatives from the Surface Transportation Board’s (STB) Rail Customer and Public Assistance Program will be conducting informal and confidential meetings with railroad shippers in Malta, MT, regarding ongoing railroad service issues. This meeting is part of a series connected with the STB hearing United States Rail Service Issues, EP 724.

    Shippers wishing to participate are encouraged to contact the STB by the close of business on Monday, June 9. STB representatives will also be available to meet with shippers at the North American Rail Shippers Association’s Annual Meeting on May 28-30 in San Francisco, CA, for confidential, informal consultations. See the STB announcement for details.

    Port of Seattle and Puget Sound Clean Air ScRAPS Program Starts

    The Port of Seattle and the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency launched a new truck scrapping and replacement program on May 27, 2014, called ScRAPS 2 (Seaport Truck Scrappage and Replacements for Air in Puget Sound).

    The program’s goal is to help trucker s calling on Port of Seattle terminals to have model-year 2007 or newer engines, or meet 2007 federal emissions standards, which are aimed at reducing air emissions from port-related activities. ScRAPS is partially funded by federal and state grants, and is expected to provide up to $20,000 to owners who scrap old drayage trucks and replace them with trucks with model-year 2007 or newer engines. The current level of funding will provide incentives for approximately 180 trucks.

    This project is expected to run through mid -2015, or until funds are depleted.

    For more information on ScRAPS, vi sit: Quality/Pages/Clean-Trucks.aspx.

    Snapshots by Sector

    • Rail U.S. railroads originated 21,016 carloads of grain during the week ending May 17, up 4 percent from last week, 38 percent from last year, and 10 percent from the 3-year average. During the week ending May 22, average June non-shuttle secondary railcar bids/offers per car were $75 above tariff, down $375 from last week and $67 higher than last year. Average shuttle secondary railcar bids/offers per car were $225 above tariff, up $413 from last week and $300 higher than last year.
    • Barge During the week ending May 24 barge grain movements totaled 663,166 tons–6 percent lower than the previous week but 56 percent higher than the same period last year. During the week ending May 24, 422 grain barges moved down river , down 7.5 percent from last week; 606 grain barges were unloaded in New Orleans , up 7 percent from the previous week.
    • Fuel During the week ending May 26, U.S. average diesel fuel prices decreased 1 cent from the previous week to $3.93 per gallon, up 5 cents from the same week last year.

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