(Washington, DC) — The House is approving legislation to block a nationwide rail strike that could deal a major blow to the economy. The chamber passed the resolution in a 290-137 vote, sending it to the Senate for consideration ahead of the December 9th strike deadline. The agreement passed by lawmakers was negotiated by two of the largest rail unions in September with help from the Biden administration. President Biden on Monday called on Congress to force a deal through, saying a strike would have disastrous consequences on the U.S. economy.
Numerous ag groups have called on Congress and the President to step in. Below are statements from various ag groups about the House passage of the legislation:
NCGA: Congressional Vote on Rail Strike a Welcome Development
The U.S. House of Representatives voted today to block a national rail strike that would have dire consequences for the nation’s economy. The vote comes as the country continues to struggle with supply-side issues and problems with key transportation hubs, including low-water levels along the Mississippi River.
The National Corn Growers Association said the vote was a welcome development.
“Rail is crucially important to America’s corn growers, who rely on it to ship grains and fertilizer,” said NCGA President Tom Haag. “We are pleased to see that Congress is taking the necessary action to ensure that rail service continues to operate.”
A deal to avert a strike appeared imminent in recent months, but a disagreement over paid sick days put the country back on the pathway to a strike, which could have begun as early as Dec. 9. Left with no other options, Pres. Biden urged Congress to act.
The House passed a separate bill that would give rail workers seven sick days. Both bills now move to the Senate. The first is expected to pass. The fate of the second is unclear.
Statement of NCFC President Chuck Conner on House Vote on Rail Agreement
Washington, D.C. (November 30, 2022)—“I would like to applaud today’s action by the House of Representatives to adopt the Tentative Agreement reached in September between railroad companies and labor unions. A labor dispute that disrupts the rail system would have dramatic impacts across the agri-food value chain, from farmers in the fields to consumer here in the U.S. and around the world. We urge to Senate to act on this bill immediately so that it can be signed into law by the president well in advance of the strike deadline on December 9.”
U.S. Grains Council Applauds Railway Decision
Today, the House voted to ratify a bill between rail companies and labor unions granting rail workers additional sick-leave benefits, aiming to prevent a strike that would negatively impact U.S. supply chains and prevent an economic downturn.
The House approved emergency resolution, H.J.Res. 100, to implement the tentative agreement as brokered by the Biden administration with the rail labor unions and the operators. The resolution will now go to the Senate for consideration. It will need 60 votes to pass the Senate before arriving at President Biden’s desk for his signature.
In a statement today, the U.S. Grains Council offered:
“The U.S. railway system is vital to movement of grains and co-products to export markets, and the U.S. Grains Council believes the federal government, the railroads and the private sector should work together to assure no shutdown occurs,” said Ryan LeGrand, U.S. Grains Council president and CEO. “Ratifying the tentative agreements already in place is a step in the right direction to coming to a solution agreeable to all parties.”
ARA, Ag Groups Urge Congress to Pass Tentative Agreement to Avoid Rail Strike
SAN DIEGO, Calif. (Nov. 30, 2022) – The Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) joined more than 200 members of the Agricultural Transportation Working Group today urging Congress to pass legislation to avoid a national rail strike.
On Nov. 28, 2022, President Joe Biden issued a statement calling on Congress to pass legislation immediately to adopt the tentative agreement reached between railroad unions and management in September. ARA thanks the U.S. House of Representatives for passing legislation today, and urges the Senate to do the same.
In a letter sent to congressional leaders on Nov. 30, the agricultural groups noted that a rail strike or lockout combined with existing challenges in the U.S. transportation system would have harmful consequences for the agricultural and broader U.S. economies.
“We urge Congress to deliver a bipartisan bill to the president’s desk well in advance of Dec. 9 at 12:01 a.m. when a strike or lockout could occur,” the agricultural groups noted. “As experienced in September, rail services are anticipated to begin winding down approximately one week in advance of Dec. 9. We thank you for your responsiveness to this imminent supply chain issue.”
ARA shared a grassroots alert with its membership to encourage them to send a message to their elected officials in Congress about avoiding a rail strike.
A tentative agreement was reached in time to avert a rail strike or lockout in September, but some of the railroad unions voted against ratification. ARA along with the National Grain & Feed Association (NGFA) and other stakeholders are urging Congress to intervene before the “cooling-off” period ends on Dec. 9.
Growth Energy Statement on House Approval of Legislation to Avert a Potential Rail Stoppage
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Growth Energy’s CEO Emily Skor issued the following statement after the House of Representatives passed a bill to avert a nationwide rail strike:
“Nearly 70% of U.S. ethanol production is moved by rail – more than 400,000 carloads annually. No one wants to see American motorists cut off from a vital supply of lower-cost, lower-carbon fuels so we’re glad to see Congress take the threat of a rail strike seriously and urge the Senate to work quickly to adopt this legislation. The sooner the bill is passed, the sooner our industry can confidently get back to work for American consumers without having to worry about a deeply disruptive, and wholly avoidable rail strike.”
Growth Energy has signed on to numerous coalitions and comment letters urging all parties involved in the negotiations to come to a voluntary agreement. In the absence of such an agreement, Growth Energy and its membership have vocally supported a legislative fix that prevents a destructive rail strike. The ethanol industry ships more than 400,000 ethanol carloads per year (USDA data: Annual U.S Rail Carloads of Ethanol | Open Ag Transport Data (usda.gov)), an estimated 200,000 carloads of distillers dried grains (DDGS), and more than 10,000 cars of corn oil. The ethanol fleet is now more than 36,000 cars (RSI data: Progress – Tank Car Resource Center).
CORN REFINERS ASSOCIATION JOINS PRESIDENT BIDEN IN ASKING CONGRESS TO PREVENT A RAIL STRIKE
WASHINGTON, D.C. – In response to President Biden’s call on Congress to prevent a freight rail work stoppage that would cripple U.S. agricultural production and supply chains, Corn Refiners Association President and CEO John Bode issued the following statement:
“Like many U.S. agricultural processors, corn refiners are already operating at full capacity for a number of important ingredients used broadly in food and personal care products. Our industry is stretched to the limit, working to deliver ingredients that are used in thousands of products in the grocery store. Even a one-day rail work stoppage would be catastrophic for our industry and the nation’s consumers. For this reason, I’d like to express our appreciation for President Biden’s call for prompt action from Congress and join him in urging our lawmakers to prevent a rail work stoppage of any length.”