Wheat producers across the country are encouraged to participate in activities related to the sixth annual Rail Customer Day on Wednesday, May 5, by going online to www.wheatworld.org.
Rail Day is an annual event that allows rail shippers concerned with access and price to converge on Washington to talk to Members of Congress about their experiences.
This year, NAWG is preparing a number of virtual Rail Day activities for producers who are undertaking spring work back home or whose organizations can’t afford an extra trip to Washington.
Activities online, just like those on the ground in D.C., will focus on consolidating Congressional support for S. 2889, the Surface Transportation Board Reauthorization Act of 2009, which the Senate Commerce Committee passed in December after months of work by key Members, Committee staff and coalition partners like NAWG.
Examples of things anyone can undertake from home are calling key Members of Congress – perhaps the most important thing to help the cause – or submitting a thoughtful letter to the editor.
This year’s events come on the heels of a new report from USDA that further illustrates the need for updates to our nation’s rail transportation policy.
The Study of Rural Transportation Issues report, released Tuesday, was called for in the 2008 Farm Bill to take a comprehensive look at agriculture transportation in the U.S., including transportation by truck, rail, barge and ocean vessel.
USDA said the 600+ page report examines some of the major issues facing agricultural transportation, including “the dramatic effect of deregulation on the rail industry, a growing gap for funding the inland waterways and highway systems, availability of containers and ocean vessel capacity, and the infrastructure that may be needed to support a projected increase in biofuel transportation.” The report also looks at U.S. transportation policy, which typically treats each mode as a separate issue without consideration for how they interconnect.
NAWG works in a number of venues to seek solutions to ongoing rail problems experienced by members, including working for necessary legislative changes. While the situation has improved over the years, particularly as NAWG and other stakeholder groups have sought to create dialogue with rail companies, legislative work remains an important element to overdue, lasting reform of rail oversight.
For more on NAWG’s rail activities, please visit www.wheatworld.org/transportation.
The full USDA study and shorter bites of major components are available at http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/RuralTransportationStudy.