MYRTLE GROVE, LOUISIANA, US — CHS Inc.’s Myrtle Grove grain export terminal reopened for operations Sept. 28, just under a month after Hurricane Ida made landfall south of New Orleans, Louisiana, US, and wreaked havoc at center-Gulf grain facilities, knocking out power and drastically reducing outbound shipments.
The facility remained without conventional power, but CHS expected utility power to be restored within a week. For now the terminal was operating on generators with one vessel docked for loading, Reuters reported. The Myrtle Grove facility owned by farm cooperative CHS was one of the last large grain terminals in the region to reopen.
US weekly rail traffic in the week ended Sept. 25 totaled 511,713 carloads and intermodal units, down 1% compared with the same week in 2020, the Association of American Railroads said in its weekly rail traffic report. That total included 239,069 carloads, up 7% from the same week last year, and 272,644 containers and trailers, down 7% compared to 2020.
Six of 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase from the same week a year earlier: chemicals, coal, forest products, metallic ores and metals, nonmetallic minerals and other. Food and farm products excluding grain, motor vehicles and parts, petroleum and petroleum products and grain each had lower volumes than a year earlier.
US grain carloads in the week totaled 21,864, down 13% from the same week in 2020, bringing the cumulative 2021 total to 866,822 carloads for an average of 22,811 per week, an 8% increase compared with the same period in 2020.
Canadian railroads reported 79,652 carloads for the week, down 3%, and 71,153 intermodal units, down 7% compared with the same week in 2020. Canadian grain carloads in the week totaled 8,166, down 16% from the same week in 2020, bringing the 2021 total to 334,243 carloads for a weekly average of 8,796, up 0.3% from the same period last year.
Mexican railroads reported 19,976 carloads for the week, up 11% compared with the same week last year, and 14,825 intermodal units, down 11%. Mexican grain carloads in the week totaled 1,889, up 43% over the same week last year, which brought the total in 2021 to 80,839 carloads for a weekly average of 2,127, down 8% from the same period last year.
North American rail volume in the week on 12 reporting US, Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 338,697 carloads, up 5% compared with the same week last year, and 358,622 intermodal units, down 7% compared with last year. North American grain carloads in the week totaled 31,919, down 11% from the same week in 2020, bringing the 2021 cumulative total to 1,281,904 carloads for a weekly average of 33,734, up 5% over the same period last year.
The average October shuttle secondary railcar bids/offers were $808 per car above tariff for the week ended Sept. 23, according to data from James B. Joiner Co. and Tradewest Brokerage Co. as cited in the US Department of Agriculture’s weekly Grain Transportation Report. That price was $147 lower than in the previous week and $721 lower compared with the same week last year. There were no non-shuttle bids/offers in the week.
Barged grain movements totaled 187,590 tons in the week ended Sept. 25, up 11% week over week but down 63% compared with the same week in 2020, the US Army Corp of Engineers said.
In the same week, 112 grain barges moved down river, two fewer barges than the previous week. There were 391 grain barges unloaded in New Orleans Region, 53% higher than last week, according to the Corps and the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service.
Ocean freight activity
Nineteen oceangoing grain vessels were loaded in the Gulf in the week ended Sept. 23, down 21% from the same week a year earlier, the AMS said. In the 10 days starting Sept. 24, 53 vessels were expected to be loaded, 13% fewer than the same period last year.
The rate for shipping one tonne of grain from the US Gulf to Japan was $82.50, up 1% week over week. The rate from the US Pacific Northwest to Japan was $45.50 per tonne, also up 1% from the previous week.
To address concerns about heavy agricultural traffic throughout the state and ensure efficient and effective collection of the 2021 grain harvest, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed a proclamation Sept. 17 to increase truck weight limits for grain transportation. Vehicles transporting corn, soybeans, hay, straw, silage and stover on Iowa highways (except for interstate highways) will be allowed to be overweight without a permit as long as loaded vehicles do not exceed 90,000 pounds gross weight, do not exceed the legal maximum axle weight limit of 20,000 pounds by more than 12.5%, and are in compliance with posted limits on roads and bridges.
The gubernatorial decree extends through Oct. 17.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently requested comments on its National Consumer Complaint Database
to help the organization secure reauthorization for continued use of the database, which is bestowed by the Office of Management and Budget.
The NCCDB allows consumers, drivers, and others to file complaints against unsafe and unscrupulous companies and their employees, the AMS said in its weekly grain transportation report. Complaints cover a wide range of areas, including electronic logging devices, financial responsibility instruments for brokers and freight forwarders, safety issues of driver harassment and coercion, and financial integrity concerns and issues, the AMS said. The online interfacing NCCDB logs complaint information that can be later used for taking enforcement action.
For the week ended Sept. 27, the US average diesel fuel price increased by 2.1¢ from the previous week to $3.406 per gallon, $1.012 above the same week last year. At $4.339 per gallon, California diesel prices are the highest since March 2013.