For the week ending Sept. 21, barge grain movements totaled 501,809 tons, a 32% decrease from the previous week and 25% less than the same period last year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said. During that same time period, 327 grain barges moved down river on the Mississippi, 146 fewer barges than the previous week. There were 629 grain barges unloaded in New Orleans, 68% more than the previous week.

For the week ending Sept. 19, total inspections of grain (corn, wheat, and soybeans) for export from all major U.S. export regions reached 1.7 million metric tons (mmt). Inspections are up 2% from the previous week, down 35% from last year, and 34% below the three-year average. Inspections increased because of a rebound in soybean inspections, which jumped 38% from the previous week, with shipments destined to Asia increasing 15%. However, exports of soybeans destined to China remained unchanged from week to week. Wheat and corn inspections decreased 8% and 45%, respectively, from the past week. Mississippi Gulf grain inspections increased 23% from the past week, but Pacific Northwest (PNW) inspections decreased 11%.

For the week ending Sept. 19, 19 oceangoing grain vessels were loaded in the Gulf, 49% fewer than the same period last year. Forty-three vessels were expected to be loaded between Sept. 20 and Sept. 29, 30% fewer than the same period last year. As of Sept. 19, the rate for shipping a metric ton (mt) of grain from the U.S. Gulf to Japan was $52.25, relatively unchanged from the previous week. The rate from PNW to Japan was $29.75 per mt, 1% less than the previous week.

The USDA reported that the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) is seeking public comment on a proposed interpretive rule on demurrage and detention under the Shipping Act. This interpretive rule would provide the public with guidance about how the FMC assesses the reasonableness of demurrage and detention practices and regulations under the Shipping Act. The interpretive rule describes a nonexclusive list of factors the Commission may consider in evaluating claims and complaints that come before the agency under 46 U.S.C. 41102(c) and 46 C.F.R. 545.4(d). The proposed rule contains specific guidance on how to submit comments, which will be accepted through Oct. 31, 2019.