National Farmers Union Fly-in Lands in D.C.

Sep 09, 2014

Railcar shortages top the list of concerns brought to Washington Lawmakers

By Jean- Paul McDonald,

Members of the Nation Farmers Union from across America have descended on Washington D.C. this week for the 2014 Fly-in, an annual event in which farmers and lawmakers get together to discuss the challenges facing the agriculture industry. The Fly-in gives D.C. lawmakers the opportunity to hear directly from farmers and ranchers who want to share their experiences with current legislation; and offer suggestions that could improve their day-to-day operations.

The top concern being brought to the nation’s capital this year is the issue surrounding the persistent railcar shortage in the Midwest. With not enough railcars available, farmers have had a hard time moving their grain out to market, leading to a backlog of shipments and piles of stored grain. Farmers argue that the railroads favor crude oil and energy products over grain and agricultural goods, an argument the railroads dispute as untrue.

Some lawmakers have already begun working towards easing the rail problems. South Dakota Senator John Thune, the ranking Republican in the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, and Committee Chairman Senator John Rockefeller, a Democrat from West Virginia, plan to introduce legislation to provide the Surface Transportation Board increased authority to perform their own investigations - instead of waiting for a complaint.  The proposed legislation would also increase the number of Board members from three to five; and improve the rate review timelines.

While rail issues will be at the center of the week-long talks, Farmers Union members will also discuss other topics of agricultural and rural importance with government officials. The Fly-in runs from September 7, 2014 to September 10, 2014.


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