Biden Asks Congress to Help Avert Potential Rail Strike

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On Monday, President Joe Biden issued a statement which called on Congress to step in and avert a potentially devastating U.S. rail strike. The strike, which could happen as early as December 9th, would cripple the transportation of food and fuel across the U.S. if it were to happen. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said they will indeed step in this week.

Read more about this story from Reuters: https://www.reuters.com/world/us/biden-expected-ask-congress-avert-rail-strike-source-2022-11-28/

Below is a statement from Mike Steenhoek, Executive Director of the Soy Transportation Coalition:

President Biden issued a statement calling on Congress “to pass legislation immediately to adopt the Tentative Agreement between railroad workers and operators – without any modifications or delay – to avert a potentially crippling national rail shutdown.”  The full statement can be accessed here:

Statement from President Joe Biden on Averting a Rail Shutdown | The White House

We applaud President Biden and his administration for recognizing the severe consequences a railroad shutdown would impose on agriculture and the broader economy and calling for an immediate resolution.  As mentioned below, an actual rail strike would halt economic activity, but even the threat of a strike will halt economic activity.  Agriculture cannot thrive without a predictable and reliable supply chain, of which our rail industry is an integral part.  Obviously, an actual rail shutdown is the least desirable option, but even a scenario in which negotiation deadlines and potential strike dates continue to be temporarily extended into the future would increase uncertainty and impose hardship.  Agriculture will struggle to succeed in such an environment.  A train transporting soybeans or other agricultural products is a sophisticated transaction involving significant volume, distance, and expense.  Those transactions are less likely to occur if our rail system does not provide the certainty that it will connect agricultural shippers with domestic and international customers.

We affirm the President’s preference that the contract negotiations be fully conducted and resolved between the two parties.  As mentioned below, our desire has been for both railroads and rail unions to arrive at an agreement that is beneficial to both sides.  However, with the current impasse and the increased potential for a shutdown to occur, the likely consequences to agriculture and the entire economy have resulted in the increased urging of our national leadership to intervene.  We concur with President Biden’s recommendation that Congress should act in a bipartisan manner to provide resolution to this dispute without further delay.

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