July 23, 2014

North Dakota Farmers Union and North Dakota Corn Growers File Comments On Rail Service

North Dakota Farmers Union (NDFU) and the North Dakota Corn
Growers Association (NDCGA) recently filed comments with the Surface Transportation
Board (STB) on rate case complaint procedures, especially procedures to challenge the
rates railroads charge for grain transportation. They joined 23 other organizations in filing
the comments; the largest combined filing by farm organizations in years.
“Our filing, in part, is to confirm that grain producers have the legal right to file rate
complaints against railroads and that those complaints won’t be dismissed,” said NDFU
President Mark Watne. “Farmers bear the cost of poor rail service and rate increases,
just like elevators and other grain shippers.”

Producers are still very concerned about the ability and willingness of BNSF and CP to
deliver last year’s crop to market in time for this year’s harvest, said Tom Lilja, executive
director of NDCGA. “Timely corn deliveries are needed for ethanol production and for
feedlots supporting livestock and meat production,” he said. “Thousands of shipments
are behind schedule. Harvest and planting can’t wait for railroads to resolve their service

The farm group leaders say many shippers are reluctant to complain to regulators for
fear that their current and future requests for rail service will not be met or will be further
delayed. “We are in a captive shipper situation,” said Watne. “We have few railroad
options to deliver our grain to market and competitive remedies generally do not exist.”
“When shippers and producers are captive to a single railroad,” added Lilja, “current law
states that rail carriers must establish rates that are reasonable. It’s time that the STB
revisit policies that have left us defenseless against market dominant railroads.”
With today’s major railroads enjoying “revenue adequacy,” any increase in rail rates
should have to be justified, said Watne and Lilja, and efforts made to develop more rail
to alleviate the situation in the future.

Other organizations joining in the filing were: National Farmers Union and state Farmers
Union organizations (MN, MT, SD, WI), National Corn Growers Association and state
Corn Growers associations (MN, NE, SD), Alliance for Rail Competition, Colorado Wheat
Administrative Committee, Idaho Barley Commission, Idaho Grain Producers
Association, Idaho Wheat Commission, Montana Wheat & Barley Committee, Nebraska
Wheat Board, Oklahoma Wheat Commission, Oregon Wheat Commission, South
Dakota Wheat Commission, Texas Wheat Producers Board, Washington Grain
Commission, Wyoming Wheat Marketing Commission, and USA Dry Pea & Lentil


Allendale Meteoroligist Says Overall Cool Trend Will Stick Around

It’s been a cooler than normal summer for a big part of the corn belt this year. Allendale meteorologist Ryan Martin says we may see some brief warm-ups - but the cool trend will stick around

Ryan Martin 1

Does this cooler summer lead to a bigger chance of an early frost?  Martin says

Ryan Martin 2

Martin says it looks like the precipitation pattern will continue to bring normal precipitation to most of the corn belt all the way through September – which if this holds – could lead to this scenario

Ryan Martin 3

As far as an El Nino pattern developing, Martin said last spring he thought El Nino would be a non-factor this year and the latest models continue to show a neutral pattern for development.




USDA Has Taken GMO Disclosure Rule Off The Table

In February 2013 – the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service proposed sharing information with state regulators about genetically engineered organisms released in their jurisdictions. Now – according to The Hill – USDA has withdrawn this rule because it found potential vulnerabilities that would have put farmers’ businesses at risk. While confidential business information is protected from mandatory public disclosure – USDA conducted an in-depth review of the Freedom of Information Act and determined disclosure of this information may constitute a waiver of this FOIA exemption.