Thursday, National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson testified before the Surface Transportation Board at a public hearing on service problems in the U.S. rail network. He says due to increasing oil production in the Bakken fields and Coal production in the Powder River basin, ag producers, elevators and ethanol producers are facing a rail car shortage crisis.
Johnson says most of the rail access problem is centered in the Dakotas, Montana and Minnesota. He says in most cases elevators there have a five day window in order to ship product to their customers or face penalties. He says those are heavy enough to cause severe economic problems.
Johnson says in his testimony he listed three specific actions for the S-T-B to take to address these problems. 1. Holding railroads responsible for losses due to delayed delivery of rail cars, 2.requiring rail companies to guarantee a certain portion of shipments are dedicated to ag products and 3. Ensuring there’s increased future investment to compensate for increased demand.