Several agricultural organizations had representatives speak before the Surface Transportation Board at a public hearing on rail service issues Thursday. Minnesota soybean farmer Lance Peterson told the board how soybeans are being impacted by transportation costs as more than 50-percent of U.S. soybeans are exported – with a value of more than 28-billion dollars in 2013. Peterson says many in the world rely on U.S. soybean farmers to meet their protein and vegetable oil demands – and farmers rely on trucks, rail and barges to move products to those markets. He says the real issue is the shifting of rail assets to the rapidly expanding oil industry occurring at the expense of longstanding shippers who rely on rail movement to conduct business. Growth Energy Director of Regulatory Affairs Chris Bliley testified ethanol price spikes have not been caused by a lack of ethanol production or supply – but purely because of an inability to get timely rail transportation.
Bliley says many plants have reduced – or halted – production because their storage capacity is fully utilized. On top of that – he says the ethanol industry has seen increased tariff rates on certain routes with very little notice. The bottom line – according to Bliley – is the railroad industry has failed in its sole responsibility to transport goods in a timely and effective manner – which has had a ripple effect on American consumers.
Source: NAFB News Service