Surface Transportation Board discusses what is being dubbed as the rail shipping crisis

Hearings are just getting underway at the Surface Transportation Board to address what many agriculture groups call a rail shipping crisis.

More than 30 organizations have appealed to the board to take action. STB said a letter from Secretary Tom Vilsack urging strong action was a large motivating factor in calling the emergency hearing.

Deputy Ag Secretary Jewel Bronaugh told the board that the USDA appreciates the recent decision to update rail emergency service rules. She suggested both short and long term action to build on the steps already taken.

“I encourage the board to collect weekly reports from the railroads to ensure they follow through with those plans. Additionally, the Surface Transportation Board should use all authority it has in the short term to incentivize the railroads to provide better service. We cannot continue a system where the railroads face no consequences for providing unpredictable service and shippers, and ultimately farmers, ranchers, and the American public pay for it when it goes wrong.”

In the long term, the USDA called on STB to clarify common carrier obligations, incentivize better rail service and expand service data collection.


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