NAWG grower-leadership applauds Thursday morning’s approval of the Surface Transportation Board Reauthorization Act of 2009 by the Senate’s Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.
The Committee approved the bill, S. 2889, by a voice vote. The bill would reauthorize the Surface Transportation Board (STB), which regulates the nation’s rail system, and make a number of needed reforms that will improve competitive conditions and transparency in the rail industry and provide improved mechanisms for challenging rail rates.
The bill was introduced Wednesday by Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) after months of work by key Members, Committee staff and coalition partners like NAWG. It was originally cosponsored by four other Members working toward rail policy that balances the needs of shippers and railroads, Sens. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-Texas), Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and John Thune (R-S.D.).
“We’ve been working on rail competition legislation for many years, and this is an issue that is vital to our members,” said NAWG President Karl Scronce, a wheat producer from Klamath Falls, Ore. “We appreciate all the work done by Chairman Rockefeller and his staff to date and look forward to helping to push this one to the finish line.”
NAWG helped spearhead a letter supporting the bill’s introduction sent Wednesday by 16 agriculture organizations to the cosponsors.
“As industries that are dependent on a well-functioning rail system that is both efficient and competitive, we fully support the introduction of the Surface Transportation Board (STB) Reauthorization Act of 2009,” the groups said.
“Nearly 30 years have passed since passage of the Staggers Act, and our nation needs new rail transportation policy to reflect the reality of the marketplace in the 21st century for both railroads and the shipping communities. We applaud your work and that of your staff members in developing a fair and reasonable compromise on a bipartisan basis that balances the needs of the agriculture shipping community with the needs of the railroads.”
Many wheat growers continue to face significant issues with both rail rates and service, and NAWG staff works with Members of Congress, rail companies and coalition partners to seek relief and resolution to these issues and others related to rail captivity and capacity.
The full letter and more information about NAWG’s work in the area of rail policy are available at www.wheatworld.org/transportation.