USDA Grain Transportation Report (5/4): Northwest Seaport Alliance Launches Rail Cargo Incentive Program

According to today's USDA Grain Transportation Report, beginning on May 1, a new rail cargo incentive program of the Northwest Seaport Alliance (NWSA) will provide ocean container carriers a $50 incentive per rail lift for eligible rail volumes moving through the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma, WA.

NWSA—the marine cargo operating partnership for the gateway—expects its new rail cargo program to generate approximately 60,000 additional rail lifts, or roughly 15% of NWSA’s international intermodal lifts in 2022.

The fourth-largest container gateway in the United States, NWSA shows an international container trade imbalance—in 2022, loaded container exports were less than half of loaded container imports.

Roughly half of the import cargo that moves through the NWSA gateway is bound for destinations outside of the Puget Sound region— primarily, the Midwest.

Along with improving NWSA’s trade balance, the incentive program has strong potential to benefit agricultural shippers.

Most inland ramp locations served and/or operated by the BNSF and Union Pacific Railroads will be eligible for the incentive program, including ramps in Minot, ND; Pocatello, ID; Millersburg, OR; and Wallula, WA.