Thune, Klobuchar ask USDA to quantify impact of rail congestion

By Erin Voegele | October 02, 2014

Sens. John Thune, R-S.D., and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., recently sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, requesting the USDA conduct an economic analysis of the rail service challenges facing agricultural shippers, including the impacts felt by the ethanol industry.

Within the letter, the senators note that while they understand Vilsack has briefed President Obama on the critical rail situation in the Midwest, no regional or national studies have been conducted to assess the economic impact of rail service challenges. Thune and Kobuchar reference a recent University of Minnesota report that indicates transportation bottlenecks cost Minnesota farmers almost $100 between March and May of this year. The farming community, however, is not the only sector impacted by rail delays.

Thune and Kobuchar ask that the USDA conduct a detailed economic analysis of ongoing transportation challenges facing producers and users of agricultural projects, including ethanol producers, food processors, and livestock producers.

“When completing this analysis, we request that the USDA also consider, as appropriate, commodity prices, food prices, and changes in agricultural exports.  We hope that the information provided by this analysis will present a clearer picture of the challenges facing the agriculture industry as we work to help resolve them,” wrote the senators.