KANSAS CITY — Nine US midwestern states, many of them top grain producers, have signed a memorandum of understanding that increases interstate truck weight limits during major disasters declared by a US president.
The action is intended to expedite the movement of emergency supplies across state lines, the US Department of Agriculture said in its latest Grain Transportation Report.
Nine state Departments of Transportation — Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin — comprise the Mid America Association of State Transportation Officials (MASTO). The group drafted an agreement to increase divisible load truck weights for interstate shipping amid US disasters. The policy increases the base-level emergency interstate truck weights for MASTO states from 80,000 lbs to 88,000 lbs, with the caveat of no more than a 10% increase per axle. Individual states still may allow heavier weights.
These nine states accounted for more than 66% of total US corn and soybean production in 2021, the USDA said.
US rail traffic in January totaled 902,265 carloads, down 3% from January 2021, and 1,001,443 containers and trailers, down 14.6% from the same month last year, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) indicated in its weekly rail traffic report. Combined US carload and intermodal originations in January totaled 1,903,708, down 9.5% from January 2021.
In January, 6 of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR saw carload gains compared with January 2021, including: coal; crushed stone, sand and gravel; and chemicals. Categories that notched declines from January 2021 included motor vehicles and parts; petroleum and petroleum products; and grain, which was down 15,396 carloads, or 14%.
“For most traffic categories, US rail volumes this January were down compared to last year,” said John T. Gray, senior vice president with AAR. “That said, last January made for very difficult comparisons for a number of categories. For example, January 2021 was the best January for grain since 1990, and was also, at the time, the highest volume month ever for intermodal. Conversely, and more optimistically, this year’s January was the highest volume month ever for rail carloads of chemicals, providing a strong base for future growth in a critical commodity.”
AAR also released statistics for the weekend ended Jan. 29 in which US weekly rail traffic totaled 491,868 carloads and intermodal units, down 6% compared with the same week a year ago. Separately, carloads in the week totaled 235,203 carloads, up 2% and intermodal volume was 256,665 containers and trailers, down 11%.
US grain carloads in the week ended Jan. 29 totaled 24,959, down 9% versus the same week in 2021, bringing the 2022 total to 95,514 for a weekly average of 23,629, down 14% from the same point in 2021.
Canadian grain carloads in the week ended Jan. 29 totaled 7,744, down 28% from the same week a year ago, bringing the 2022 total to 27,781 for an average of 6,945, down 34.6% from the same point in 2021.
Mexican grain carloads for the week totaled 1,839, down 8.5% from the same week a year earlier, bringing the total for the year to 6,897 for a weekly average of 1,724, down 22%.
North American rail volume for the week on 12 reporting US, Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 330,400 carloads, down 2% compared with the same week last year, and 337,564 intermodal units, down 11% compared with last year. The total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 667,964 carloads and intermodal units, down 6%. North American rail volume for the first four weeks of 2022 was 2,562,997 carloads and intermodal units, down 11% compared with 2021.
North American grain carloads in the week totaled 34,542, down 14% from the same week a year earlier, bringing the total for 2022 thus far to 129,192 for a weekly average of 32,298, down 20% from the same period in 2021.
The average February shuttle railcar bids/offers per car in the secondary market were $1,156 above tariff in the week ended Jan 27. This was $102 lower than the previous week and $1,057 more than the same week in 2021, the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service indicated after examining date compiled by James B. Joiner Co. and Tradewest Brokerage Co. There were no non-shuttle bids/offers in the week.
In the week ended Jan. 29, barged grain movements totaled 489,344 tons, down 37% from the previous week and down 52% from the same period last year, the US Army Corps of Engineers said.
In the same week, 300 grain barges moved down river, 162 fewer barges than in the previous week. The New Orleans area had 742 grain barges unloaded in the week, 9% fewer than the previous week, the Corps and AMS said.
Ocean freight activity
Thirty-seven oceangoing grain vessels were loaded in the Gulf in the week ended Jan. 27, unchanged from the same period last year. In the 10 days starting Jan. 28, 52 vessels were expected to be loaded, a 20% decline compared with the same period last year, the AMS said.
As of Jan. 27, the rate for shipping one tonne of grain from the US Gulf to Japan was $62.50, down 3% from the previous week. The rate from the Pacific Northwest to Japan with grain was $34.50 per tonne, down 1% from the previous week.
In the week ended Jan. 31, the US average diesel fuel price increased 6.6¢ from the previous week to $3.846 per gallon, 110.8¢ above the same week last year. At $3.714 per gallon, the average Midwest diesel price increased 23.7¢ in January.
Following are the average weekly on-highway diesel prices per gallon by region on Feb. 7:
Region Feb. 7 Change Change
price from a from a
week ago year ago
East Coast $3.971 $0.119 $1.126
New England 3.947 0.114 1.107
Central Atlantic 4.098 0.096 1.093
Lower Atlantic 3.896 0.135 1.156
Midwest 3.808 0.094 1.060
Gulf Coast 3.730 0.122 1.164
Rocky Mountain 3.861 0.104 1.162
West Coast 4.622 0.078 1.364
West Coast less California 4.250 0.066 1.353
California 4.949 0.087 1.391