Barge Trade Digitization Project

On Feb. 16, 2018, National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) and North American Export Grain Association (NAEGA) conducted a workshop in New Orleans to explore the potential for digitization of the paperwork and processes employed in the barge trade industry.

The workshop was attended by over 40 representatives from various sectors in the barge trade, including barge lines and operators; grain companies; exporters; trade, transportation and logistics consultants; and technology providers.  The workshop focused on the numerous steps and multiple entities involved in the contracting, application, reconsignment, billing and other processes common in the barge trade.  Because the documentation and current processes still are largely paper-based, they are time-consuming and costly.  The resounding consensus of the participants at the workshop was that the industry should attempt to address the inefficiencies, unnecessary expenses and delays of the current system by pursuing alternative approaches based on employment of digitization and electronic transmission.    

As a result, a task force of company representatives in the barge trade has been assembled and begun to consider what approaches to undertake for a new system.  Initial observations about the new system include: 

  • The purpose of the new system would be to facilitate document transfers between trading counter parties.  It is not to displace the verbal application of barges, but to ease transfer of documents once the verbal application has occurred.  The new system will serve as a shared documents ledger with secured access.
  • The new system should have ability to record trade-specific information; create, access, download and print bills of lading and various other documents; electronically sign documents and transfer ownership; receive electronic communications; and house and archive extensive documentation.
  • Security is an important requirement.
  • Cost is another critical component.  The task force predicts that the costs of a new system will present a significant savings compared to the current processes.
  • The new system would be designed to be used by all industry parties when transferring documents.

The work of the task force is still very preliminary.  As part of their initial review, the task force is seeking input from other industry participants on the core requirements of a new system and any other feedback they should consider. Broad adoption by the industry is critical to achieving the maximum potential cost savings associated with the new system. 

All inquiries and feedback are welcome.  Please contact Julie Detlefsen ( or Charlie Delacruz ( with any questions or comments.  

IPPC Trip Report

A trip report is now available for IGTC Secretariat Katy Lee’s travel to Rome, Italy to attend the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) 13th Commission on Phytosanitary Measures (CPM). During this mission Katy received an updated on the status of the draft International Standard on Phytosanitary Measures (ISPM) for grain has been assigned a “pending” status by the CPM until at least April 2019, and participated in discussion surrounding the IPPC’s ePhyto Solution, which is now entering its pilot phase.

A copy of Katy’s trip report can be found here.

Update on China Soybean Phytosanitary Requirements

NAEGA is continuing its work to address phytosanitary certification requirements and other non-tariff trade barriers, like issuance of bio-safety certs. for U.S. soybeans and other grains and oilseeds imported into China.  

We have completed some new work with respect to the U.S. APHIS imposed requirements for an additional declaration (AD) on China soybean phytos for shipments with over 1 percent foreign material (FM). Please find a NAEGA commissioned report from Informa Economics analyzing the factors impacting China soy imports from the U.S. here. We are awaiting a price analysis from the National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) and are conducting analysis related to competitor national grading and testing practices.

In a meeting on Monday, June 11 the Informa report was shared with the USDA’s Chief Economist Robert Johansson and Office of the Chief Economist (OCE) staff. OCE recognized that economic impact in the first quarter of 2018 from the phyto AD exceeded $100 million USD and therefore the negative impact exceeds OCE’s threshold for analysis. It is expected that they will begin further analysis of the report this week. Overall, the U.S. government apparatus and capacity to deal with China and other trade matters is overwhelmed with current circumstances.

Moving forward, one strategy we are working which is articulated in a Concept Paper for U.S. Public-Private Partnership to provide for market access for agricultural products and commodities covered by China’s Decree 177, aims to create agreements (e.g., protocols or memoranda of understanding) that provide for market access for agricultural commodities and products addressed by Decree 177, starting with U.S. soybean exports. A copy of the concept paper can be found here.

Comments on Canadian Retaliatory Duties

The Government of Canada is accepting comments regarding which American products should have additional tariffs imposed upon them in retaliation for U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs, which were enacted by the Trump Administration on June 1, 2018. The government hopes to have its tariffs in place beginning July 1 but is still discerning which products its tariffs will affect. Canada expects the duties on the chosen products to mirror the U.S. tariffs, at an additional 10 percent or 25 percent.

A list of items under consideration for retaliatory measures can be found here.

Interested parties may submit their comments to Canada’s Department of Finance via fax or email through June 15, 2018.

 NAEGA members interested in submitting comments should contact Ryan.

U.S. Federal Aviation Administration Establishes Drone Restrictions

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has established temporary restrictions on drone operations over Department of Justice (DOJ) and United States Coast Guard (USCG) facilities due to national security concerns.

These restrictions include prohibiting drone flights up to 400 feet within the aerial boundaries of 19 United States Penitentiaries and 10 USCG bases across the continental U.S.

This is the first time the FAA has imposed specific flight restrictions for drones over DOJ and USCG facilities, though in the past it has placed similar restrictions over military installations, Department of Interior and Department of Energy facilities. These restriction still remain in place. Drone operators who violate flight restrictions may be subject to criminal charges. A map of all currently restricted locations for drones can be found here.

These restrictions will go into effect on June 20, 2018.