Freight By The Numbers: How much does agriculture rely on moving freight?

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Bruce Ikenberry

The country’s freight railroads and 12 unions failed to agree on a new contract after months of talks. Leaders are urging Congressional leaders to step in to avoid a rail strike.

What would happen if a strike happens and railroads fail to move freight?

According to analysts, a strike could cost the U.S. economy roughly $2 billion per day and halt shipments of biofuels, grains, meat, and produce.

If railroads do not move freight, it would take more than 99 million additional trucks traveling on public roadways, according to The Association of American Railroads.

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Usually, freight railroads haul almost 2 billion tons of raw materials and finished goods. Breaking it down, they move more than 1.5 million carloads of food products and 1.6 million carloads of grain and other farm products in a year.

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Corn is the highest-volume grain carried by railroads, as railroads account for more than a third of U.S. grain export movement.

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One rail car can haul enough crude oil to make almost 14,000 gallons of gasoline. Last year, the average carload carrying crude oil carried roughly 650 barrels of oil.

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Last year alone, freight railroads moved more than 1 million carloads of lumber and paper products. This includes wood to construct homes, magazine paper, and cardboard for packaging. One rail car can haul enough framing lumber for five homes.

Story via Association of American Railroads