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Bill Introduced to Improve Rail Transportation

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grain trainA bipartisan bill introduced in the Senate would improve the functioning of the Surface Transportation Board, as according to the National Farmers Union. Senate bill 2777, The Surface Transportation Board Reauthorization Act of 2014,” would establish STB as an independent agency, streamline rate case procedures, give STB limited investigative authority, and codify arbitration procedures for disputes between shippers and railroads.  The bill was introduced by South Dakota Republican Senator John Thune and West Virginia Democrat Jay Rockefeller. Doug Sombke, chairman of NFU’s legislative committee and president of South Dakota Farmers Union, called the bill a hopeful move to bring more congressional oversight.  

In the upper Midwest, where shipping by rail is often the only option for the region’s farmers, rail transportation is months behind schedule, resulting in farmers and cooperatives being assessed hefty fines for late deliveries. In South Dakota, some farmers have already been forced to pile wheat on the ground because elevators can’t accept the increased liability. At one particular elevator, 3 million of the yearly 15 million bushels of grain will not move before this year’s harvest begins.