Grain News


MN Ag Dept. to Host Grain Rail Freight Meeting

Date Posted: July 8, 2014

Alexandria, MN—Great concern has come out of the agriculture sector this year over railroad delays and their negative effect on local economies.

Similarly, there have been concerns about water transportation and the quick movement of grain to international customers.

In an attempt to gather transportation stakeholders together to discuss the future of agricultural freight shipments/movements in Minnesota and address farmer and agricultural concerns, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture is hosting “Envisioning the Future of Agricultural Freight in Minnesota” July 10th at Arrowwood Resort in Alexandria, Minn.

The Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council (MSR&PC) and Minnesota Soybean Growers Association (MSGA), key partners of the event, recognize the importance of available agricultural freight movement for soybean farmers, especially since railcar delays began to significantly impact the basis over the winter months.

Sam Ziegler, Minnesota Soybean Director of Marketing Programs, has been monitoring the situation as he began hearing about the delays in railcars and saw the problem grow quickly.

“At meetings, farmers have been sharing how big of an impact this was having on their marketing plans and the impact it would have on their farm if it did not get fixed soon.

"Minnesota Soybean began listening closely to people in the grain business and traders in Asia.

"The first time we confirmed the rail problem was impacting our soybean customers in Asia, we knew we could not downplay the problem,” Ziegler said.

Fortunately, farmers dodged a bullet this spring with wet conditions delaying corn planting and the need for fertilizer, since railroads were struggling to deliver enough fertilizer to farms across Minnesota.

But the delay in fertilizer shipments raised another red flag in the agriculture sector in what is seen as a compounding problem.

“This meeting is an opportunity for farmers to have dialogue with the major rail players on what the future looks like for reliable service. It is important to work together on this issue since we both rely on one another,” Ziegler said.

Minnesota Soybean’s role is to be a voice for the state’s soybean farmers on issues that impact their operations.

MSGA is keeping a close eye on the rail situation, speaking to legislators and requesting dialogue and solutions.

MSR&PC continues to work on quantifying impacts of the transportation issues in the state as well as identifying options to meet future need.

And to make sure Minnesota’s soybean farmers have a voice, MSR&PC Director Bill Zurn will be representing them during the July 10 meeting.

Other organizations that will be represented at the meeting include area railroad companies, Midwest Shippers Association, Minnesota Grain and Feed Association, Minnesota Corn Grower Association and DOT/Surface Transportation Board.

The meeting begins at 10 a.m. All farmers are welcome to attend.

Lunch is provided.

Those planning to attend must RSVP to Christina.Connelly@state.mn.us before attending the event.

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