ASA provides rail, highway and waterways transportation update

Farm Forum

On Oct. 16 the American Soybean Association (ASA) provided members with an update on transportation issues impacting soy growers including rail, waterways and trucks.


ASA continues to monitor rail service issues in the northern tier and the ripple effects for other regions and other modes of transportation. The service disruptions experienced in freight transportation has prompted continued efforts by ASA and other stakeholders to improve service and communication from the rail companies.

The Soy Transportation Coalition (STC) is in the process of commissioning an analysis to specifically measure and quantify the economic impacts of the rail service delays on soybean producers, including the impact on basis. The analysis also hopes to examine the potential for certain harvest season exemptions for truck transportation in the highest impacted states to provide relief and offset some of the costs incurred from rail service delays.

Sen. Rockefeller and Sen. Thune introduced a bill (S. 2777) to reauthorize and improve the Surface Transportation Board (STB). The bill would reauthorize the STB, give STB the authority to initiate investigations, establish an arbitration process for rail disputes, and establish firm timeframes for cases to be considered. ASA and other ag groups have met with Senate offices to discuss the measure and the broader transportation issues. Several Senators from soybean producing states, including Senators McCaskill (D-MO), Blunt (R-MO), Coats (R-IN), and Fischer (R-NE) that are on the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee raised questions and concerns with the bill during the hearing and mark-up and rail companies are actively working against the measure.


Following successful enactment of the Water Resources Reform & Development Act (WRRDA) earlier this year, ASA is now actively working on implementation of priority waterways infrastructure programs and the policies that were included in the WRRDA. ASA has submitted comments to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and initiated a joint sign-on letter for agricultural groups to send to the White House urging funding in fiscal year 2015 and in the fiscal year 2016 budget request for construction funding for the Navigation Ecosystem Sustainability Program (NESP) on the Upper Mississippi River System. ASA is urging the Administration to prioritize construction funding for NESP in the FY16 budget request to immediately undertake navigation efficiency improvements and upgrades to locks, including design and construction of new and larger locks on the Upper Mississippi River System, if feasible.


Reauthorization of the Surface Transportation bill will be on the congressional agenda in 2015 and ASA continues to advocate for provisions to increase truck weight limits on interstates to 97,000 lbs with the addition of a sixth axle. Congress temporarily extended the current surface transportation programs and work will not resume on a new bill until the next Congress.