NCGA: Rail Disruption Would Affect Farmers, Congressional Involvement Needed

September 13, 2022

NCGA: Rail Disruption Would Affect Farmers, Congressional Involvement Needed

Sep 13, 2022

Key Issues:Farm PolicyTransportation and Infrastructure

Author: Bryan Goodman

As the country braces for a possible large scale interruption on Friday to freight rail service over a dispute between unions and industry, the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) is reminding leaders that the agricultural sector relies heavily on a consistent and reliable rail service and calling for Congress’s involvement.

“Rail is an essential piece of the agricultural supply chain, particularly as we approach harvest season, so any disruption to rail services would have a negative and lasting impact on our growers,” said Brooke S. Appleton, the vice president of public policy at NCGA. “Given the effect this could have on farmers and the nation’s economy, we urge both sides to do whatever it takes to resolve this issue by the end of the week. If an agreement is not reached soon, Congress needs to act.”

Appleton noted that NCGA has spent the summer actively encouraging industry officials and members of Congress to resolve the dispute. NCGA has also partnered with other groups to communicate the importance of expeditiously resolving the impasse. And today NCGA and its partners sent a letter to Congress again emphasizing how critical rail is to the agricultural community and encouraging Congress to prepare to intervene.

The issue began earlier this year as industry officials and union leaders failed to reach a contract agreement. As a result, President Biden established an emergency board, comprised of industry and union officials, which was charged with developing a resolution.

Last month, the board recommended several resolutions, including raises for rail workers. While most unions agreed to the proposal, two of the largest unions held out, citing the need for improved working conditions for rail workers.

This Friday marks the end of a 30-day cooling off period. If the two sides don’t come to an agreement, freight rail services across the country could come to a halt. Such an outcome, say experts, would have far-reaching ramifications for the supply-chain and the U.S. economy.