Transportation Issues Impacting Grain Movement

Farmers harvesting their grain this fall face some challenges getting their commodities to export markets. Andrew Walmsley, American Farm Bureau Federation Senior Director of Government Affairs, says farmers are seeing complications on multiple fronts.

“You have truck transportation where we’re seeing challenges with labor availability and high diesel prices. You’ve then got the waterways challenged with very low water levels that’s restricting movement of grain. And then we’ve had service issues with rail, just generally with the railroads and some of the service matrix, but then a lot of uncertainty interjected now with the potential of a strike as we do not have an agreement between the labor unions and the railroads.”

However, Walmsley says a potential railroad strike is one of the things that can be avoided.

“When you look at the rivers, we can pray for rain. We also appreciate everything that the Army Corps of Engineers is doing to keep the river flowing as much as possible. But one we can avoid is the potential of a strike or lockout between the labor unions and the railroads. The rail network is critical to moving bulk goods in this country, particularly this time of year with harvest, and then also prepositioning through the spring for critical inputs.”

Walmsley says Farm Bureau is encouraging lawmakers to be proactive.

“What we are encouraging, over 300 groups last week sent a letter to the president encouraging the administration to stay engaged. From an ag sector, we’re encouraging Congress to take action here sooner rather than later if the unions and the railroads can’t reach an agreement.”

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