WASHINGTON, DC, US — The Port of Los Angeles in California will operate around the clock in a bid to regain terminal space by clearing import containers for more fluid operations and to relieve the growing backlogs in the busiest US container port complex, the White House said Oct. 13.
With an eye to ensuring the expanded hours of port operation are fruitful in addressing a backlog that had cargo carriers and container ships in long wait times offshore, the White House brought together leaders of business, unions, and ports, the US Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service said in its weekly Grain Transportation report.
The AMS said those negotiation efforts have so far secured commitments from Walmart to increase its container turnover 50% over several weeks by increasing its nighttime operations and from United Parcel Service, which plans to increase its 24/7 operations, which will allow it to move 20% more containers off the ports. FedEx, in collaboration with its trucking and rail providers, plans to double nighttime container movement and Samsung said its warehousing operations will be open 24/7 for the next 90 days as the electronics and appliance giant looks to move 60% more containers out of the ports.
Containerized agricultural exporters rely heavily on the Los Angeles and Long Beach port complex to move products overseas. The port at Long Beach, California, US, already operates around the clock, seven days a week.
US weekly rail traffic in the week ended Oct. 9 totaled 506,642 carloads and intermodal units, a 3% decrease from the same week last year, the Association of American Railroads said in its Oct. 13 rail traffic report. That total comprised carloads totaling 239,821, up 4% from the same week a year ago and 266,821 intermodal containers and trailers, down 8% compared to 2020. Total combined US traffic for the first 40 weeks of 2021 was 20,328,389 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 9% compared to last year.
Six of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2020. Four categories with lower year-over-year volumes included grain, down 3,483 carloads, or 13%, to 24,037, bringing the 2021 cumulative total to 916, 866 for a weekly average of 22,922 carloads, down 7 % from the same period in 2020.
Canadian railroads reported 76,424 carloads in the week, down 4%, and 73,414 intermodal units, down 7%, compared with the same week in 2020. For the first 40 weeks of 2021, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 5,932,524 carloads, containers and trailers, up 5%. Canadian grain carloads in the week totaled 8,532, down 20% from the same week in 2020, bringing the 2021 cumulative to 352,228 grain carloads for a weekly average of 8,806, down 0.5% from the same period last year.
Mexican railroads reported 19,108 carloads in the week, down 9% from the same week in 2020, and 15,756 intermodal units, down 9%. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 40 weeks of 2021 was 1,444,924 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 4% from the same point last year. Mexican grain carloads in the week totaled 1,860, up 2% from the same week last year, bringing the 2021 cumulative total to 83,195 for a weekly average of 2,080, down 9% from the same period last year.
North American rail volume comprising 12 reporting US, Canadian and Mexican railroads in the week ended Oct. 9 totaled 335,353 carloads, up 1% compared with the same week last year, and 355,991 intermodal units, down 8% compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 691,344 carloads and intermodal units, down 4%. North American rail volume for the first 40 weeks of 2021 was 27,705,837 carloads and intermodal units, up 8% compared with 2020. North American grain carloads in the week totaled 34,429, down 14% from the same week in 2020, bringing 2021 cumulative grain carloads on the continent to 1,352,289 for a weekly average of 33,807, up 4% from the same period last year.
The average October shuttle secondary railcar bids-offers were $59 per car above tariff in the week ended Oct. 7, down $211 from the previous week and $709 lower than the same week in 2020, the AMS said after reviewing data from James B. Joiner Co. and Tradewest Brokerage Co. There were no non-shuttle bids/offers this week.
The Union Pacific railroad put no single cars up for auction for a fifth straight week. That had some country elevators in eastern Colorado with access to BNSF rail lines looking to buy cars for November and December use. Traders were actively buying November-December equipment in the secondary market at prices that had come off as much as $850 per car in the past few weeks.
In the week ended Oct. 9, US barged grain movements totaled 590,886 tons, up 20% from the previous week but down 27% from the same week in 2020, the US Army Corps of Engineers said.
In the same week, 360 grain barges moved down river, an increase of 65 barges from the previous week, the Corps and AMS said. There were 747 grain barges unloaded in the New Orleans region, 17% more than in the prior week.
Ocean freight activity
In the week ended Oct. 7, 32 oceangoing grain vessels were loaded in the Gulf, 27% fewer than in the same week last year, the AMS said. In the 10 days starting Oct. 8, 53 vessels were expected to be loaded, a 7% decline from the same period in 2020.
As of Oct. 7, the rate for shipping one tonne of grain from the US Gulf to Japan was $84.25, unchanged from the previous week. The rate from the Pacific Northwest to Japan was $46.50 per tonne, unchanged from the previous week.
A 30-day executive order signed Oct. 4 by the Minnesota Governor Tim Walz declared an emergency in that state and waived hours-of-service trucking regulations to support Minnesota livestock producers in the safe, efficient transport of livestock, water supplies, and livestock-feed-related commodities.
The Department of Natural Resources in July announced Minnesota had entered the drought warning phase. Drought conditions have persisted in Minnesota since that time, even after helpful rainfall in late August and early September. The Department said it will take at least four to eight inches of precipitation over a period of a month to significantly alleviate the drought in the Northern Plains. Such conditions have made hay and other forage scarce.
“Without reliable access to quality hay or forage, farmers and livestock producers have had to adjust their feeding operations to include other commodities such as corn silage, distiller grain, and beet pulp,” the governor’s executive orders said. “Farmers also report that the hay and forage reserved for winter use has already been consumed, and replenishing supplies is critical to maintaining healthy livestock. The challenges created by the drought are compounded by the shortage of available drivers and trucks, increased fuel prices, and disruptions to the typical schedule for buying and selling livestock.
For the week ended Oct. 11, the US average diesel fuel price increased by 10.9¢ from the previous week to $3.586 per gallon,
$1.19 above the same week last year. At $4.42 per gallon, California diesel prices were the highest since September 2012.
The average on-highway diesel fuel price per gallon by region in the week ended Oct. 11: