The Surface Transportation Board (STB) ordered all major U.S. railways this week to begin filing weekly reports in efforts to ease issues including shortage of cars, delays and the possible impact on farmers as a new crop harvest begins this season. “This order follows the Board’s recent public hearings regarding rail service issues, at which many rail shippers expressed concerns about the lack of publicly available rail service metrics and requested access to certain performance data from the railroads to help them better understand the scope, magnitude, and impact of the current service problems,” the STB said in a release. “The data collected pursuant to this order will give the Board and interested parties a better real-time understanding of the current rail service issues.”
As the backlog of rail cars in the upper Midwest continues, and elevators are still full of 2013-crop grain ahead a record 2014 harvest, both farmers and lawmakers worry the backlog will create a grain storage crisis as a new crop harvest begins. In September, ASA Director Lance Peterson, a soybean farmer from Underwood, Minn., represented ASA and the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association at the STB hearing on the rail car issues in Fargo, N.D. Peterson re-emphasized points he made at a previous STB hearing in the spring, calling for “adequate and timely rail service.” Also testifying for soybean growers at the hearing was Eric Broten, representing the North Dakota Soybean Growers Association.