ARA, TFI Fight Being Railroaded

If you shudder to think of the difficulties in transporting fertilizer and other crop inputs without rail, then be assured that your voice is being heard in the nation’s capitol as the issue is debated.

The Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) and The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) provided testimony before the Surface Transportation Board (STB) regarding railroads’ "Common Carrier" obligation and transport of hazardous materials on Tuesday. This is the second hearing held by the STB on the issue and it provided an opportunity for the two ag industry associations and others to stress both the essential nature of fertilizers.

At issue is the request by railroads to apply another part of the Stagger’s Act in place of the “Common Carrier” obligation. The "Reasonable Request" language of the act would exempt rail carriers from the obligation to transport chemical goods classified as toxic by inhalation (TIH). Already, railroads have started to charge additional fees as a means of encouraging shippers to use other methods of transport.

ARA Chairman Dan Weber, vice president of agronomy for Ceres Solutions, explained the importance of fertilizer and other crop input materials and the valuable role railroads facilitate in transporting agriculture products nationwide, ensuring productivity for retailers’ grower-customers. Ag retailers use railroads as a means to distribute and receive crop inputs, such as anhydrous ammonia, nitrogen, phosphate, and potassium.

"America’s agricultural industry is currently faced with high fuel, fertilizer, and transportation costs," Weber told the STB. "If the railroad is allowed to avoid its ‘Common Carrier’ obligation, the agricultural industry may be stalled in its productive capacity, and the United States will continue to see food and energy prices soar. The current railroad regulatory environment may help to further drive many within agriculture out of business and increase the nation’s dependence on foreign sources of food and fiber."

TFI President Ford B. West also testified about TFI’s efforts to seek a business solution to address the railroads’ concerns about transporting anhydrous ammonia.

Although anhydrous ammonia is transported by several methods including pipeline, barge, truck and ocean vessel, rail transportation is a critical means for shipping the strategic commodity and is also recognized by the Association of American Railroads and TFI as the safest mode for transportation of TIH materials. “One railroad tank car can transport as much ammonia as four trucks,” explained West. “Rail transportation is not only more efficient than trucks; it takes a highly hazardous commodity off our nation’s highways where the potential for accident and public release are many times greater.”

West’s testimony also addressed issues related to the rail industry’s suggestion that the agricultural sector replace anhydrous ammonia with other nitrogen fertilizers, which West pointed out is not realistic because ammonia is a primary ingredient needed to produce other nitrogen and most phosphate fertilizers. In addition, West reminded the STB members of TFI and its member companies’ efforts related to its proposal whereby TFI members would be willing to enter into an agreement with Class I railroads under which shippers would assume part of the cost of excess liability insurance for the rail transportation of anhydrous ammonia.

The proposal, which received praise from STB Chairman Charles Nottingham during the hearing, has facilitated individual meetings between TFI and five of the seven Class I railroads with the final two meetings taking place later this week.

Those testifying on behalf of shipper associations included the National Grain and Feed Association, the Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association, CF Industries, The McGregor Co., and Terra Industries.

Leave a Reply

Latest News
Soybean Field
FungicidesSyngenta Launches Interactive Tools For Vibrance Seed T…
August 30, 2016
As part of the ongoing commitment to provide growers and retailers with the most current crop protection products and agronomic Read More
EquipmentAGCO Celebrates Manufacturing In Minnesota
August 30, 2016
AGCO Corp. welcomed the I Make America campaign to its Jackson, MN, factory last Friday to celebrate the contributions of manufacturing Read More
MAGIE 2015 Overview
Eric SfiligojThe Read From MAGIE
August 29, 2016
As I write this column, I’ve just returned from the annual Midwest AG Industries Exposition (MAGIE) in Bloomington, IL. Being Read More
EquipmentAGCO Opens Nominations For 11th Annual Operator Of The …
August 29, 2016
AGCO Corp. is now accepting nominations for 2016 Operator of the Year, which recognizes hard-working applicators across the country. These Read More
CHS St. Paul, MN fertilizer terminal
CropLife 100CHS Completes $10 Million Renovation Of St. Paul Agrono…
August 29, 2016
CHS Inc., North America’s leading farmer-owned cooperative and a global energy, grains and foods company, has completed a $10 million Read More
2016 ShowStopper | Case IH Patriot 4440 Sprayer
Equipment5 Show-stopping Products On Display At 2016 MAGIE
August 26, 2016
For 10 years now, visitors to the yearly Midwest AG Industries Exposition (MAGIE) show have been tasked with voting for Read More
Crop InputsDuPont Pioneer: Corn Belt P and K Levels Lagging
August 24, 2016
A new DuPont Pioneer study conducted across 12 Corn Belt states demonstrates that growers may be leaving profit potential in Read More
Monsanto sign
Crop InputsCould a Monsanto-Bayer Union Be 2 Weeks from Fruition?
August 24, 2016
Via STLToday.com (The St. Louis Post-Dispatch): Merger talks between Monsanto Co. and Bayer AG are advancing after a series of Read More
EquipmentCase IH Debuts Nutri-Tiller 955 Strip-Till Applicator
August 24, 2016
With strip-till continuing to expand across new acres, Case IH designed the new Nutri-Tiller 955 strip-till applicator to help producers Read More
EquipmentCase Launches Aim Command FLEX, 25th Anniversary Patrio…
August 24, 2016
Case IH announces new AIM Command FLEX advanced spray technology for greater application accuracy, as well as special 25th Anniversary Read More
ASMARK 2016 Retailers Live! Tour - CPS
CropLife 100CPS Acquires Texas Retail Operation
August 23, 2016
Crop Production Services (CPS) has acquired the assets of Larry’s Chemical and Spray, Inc., for an undisclosed amount in an Read More
PrecisionAg Video Conference
Precision AgVideo: PrecisionAg Vision Conference
August 22, 2016
A Strategic Conference Focused on the Future of Farm Digitization and Precision Agriculture Visit precisionagvision.com and register today! Read More
Young Corn Plants
Industry NewsOABA Welcomes Nicole Wallace As Communication & Adm…
August 22, 2016
The Ohio AgriBusiness Association has hired Nicole Wallace as its communication and administrative coordinator. Wallace will help provide comprehensive communication Read More
Syngenta Sign
Crop InputsChemChina, Syngenta Receive Clearance From CFIUS
August 22, 2016
China National Chemical Corp. (ChemChina) and Syngenta have announced that the companies have received clearance on their proposed transaction from the Read More
ManagementAg Industry Shows and Rumors
August 18, 2016
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about the upcoming trade show schedule, crop protection merger updates, and content for Read More
MAGIE 2015
EquipmentMAGIE Takes The Pulse Of The Ag Retail Industry
August 18, 2016
Every year, one of the major highlights of my career as an ag journalist is attending the Midwest AG Industries Read More
MAGIE 2015 Overview
EquipmentPride In Professionalism On Display At MAGIE
August 18, 2016
The Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association (IFCA) is proud to partner with CropLife IRON and continue the tradition of bringing Read More
SprayersJenner Ag To Debut 25th Anniversary Edition Case IH Pat…
August 18, 2016
Visitors at the 2016 Midwest Ag Industries Exhibition (MAGIE) in Bloomington, IL, will have a unique photo opportunity, as Jenner Read More