Railroad Issues Still a Major Headache for Midwest Farmers

May 14, 2014

From Shipping to Receiving, Trains Are Not on Track with Farmers Needs

By Jean-Paul McDonald, Farms.com

On the heels of one of the harshest winters in decades, American farmers are growing increasingly concerned with shortages in fertilizer as the result of shipping delays on the national railroads. With planting season underway in many northern states, farmers worry that the delay of fertilizer applications could lead to poor crops and limited yields this year –and with lower prices predicted for corn, that’s a blow most farmers couldn’t take.

While many farmers are still struggling to get last year’s grains shipped to ports due to railcar shortages and rail operator backlogs, the shortage of fertilizer is a critical issue that needs to be addressed immediately. And it’s not just farmers who pay the price for the delays. Fertilizer makers are also feeling the pinch as they can’t get their products to their customers, including Mosaic Co., which has seen a 43% drop in first-quarter earnings partly due to transport problems.

Although farm crops and supplies have been slow to move, the railroads are busy. With an oil boom in North Dakota and an increase in consumer goods being shipped across the country, railroad companies are investing billions of dollars in new tracks to accommodate the ever growing demand for transport of crude oil, agricultural goods, and much more.

With a limited planting and growing season in the northern states, the urgency for fertilizer is real. With decreased prices forecasted for corn, farmers need all the help they can get this year.

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