Senators Address Ag Rail Shipments - KXNet.com - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

Senators Address Ag Rail Shipments

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A backlog of grain car shipments is causing concern for agriculture producers nearing harvest.

Members of North Dakota's congressional delegation say the shipment delays are causing preventable challenges.

Today, Senators John Hoeven and Heidi Heitkamp pressured Canadian Pacific Railway CEO Hunter Harrison for solutions.

A five percent improvement has been made through the summer since the U.S. Surface Transportation Board began monitoring the progress of improvements made by CP and Burlington Northern-Santa Fe Railroad.

In June, CP reported having nearly 24,000 open requests for grain cars, that has fallen to about 22,400 in August with an average wait of 12 weeks.

BNSF reports numbers in terms of past due cars -- indicating 24-hundred past due cars averaging 21 days late.

The senators say they would like to see a better flow of information between rail and agriculture -- he would like to see it made clear which orders are current and which are delinquent.

(Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, (D) North Dakota) "These are very, very serious challenges with basis differentials costing our farmers a lot of money. In May, I asked NDSU to put together an economic report on the cost of these delays. In May, it was $66 million dollars and we think that it will be well over $100 million. That's money out of our producers' pockets."

She says there are bean producers who have lost markets because of delayed shipments.

Senator John Hoeven urged both prominent rail companies to provide a short-term catch up plan as well as a long-term plan to prevent a similar problem for the 2014 crop.

(Sen. John Hoeven, (R) North Dakota) "BNSF showed us a plan, short term and long term. We want the same thing from CP so that we don't have an issue where we feel like oil is being moved timely and grain isn't. They have to be able to surge for grain and meet the harvest."

The delegation met with BNSF leaders in Fargo last week.

BNSF is investing over a half-billion dollars in new rail track.

 

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