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
Patriot 4440 Sprayer close up
ManagementFlashing Back And Moving Forward On Spray Drift
May 3, 2016
The potential for pesticide drift remains an unavoidable feature of modern agriculture. Here, too, history repeats itself. “When Roundup debuted, Read More
Giant Ragweed
HerbicidesSurvey Provides Insights On Giant Ragweed In The Corn B…
May 2, 2016
A new survey published in the journal Weed Science offers insights into the distribution and management of giant ragweed, a Read More
Truck dumping dry fertilizer
FertilizerFertilizer Logistics Q&A: Southern States’ Joe Wlod…
May 2, 2016
Joe Wlodkoski, Director of Agronomy Procurement, Fertilizer, Southern States Cooperative, is a 40-plus year fertilizer industry veteran. He is quite Read More
Eric SfiligojReasons For Hope In Commodity Prices
May 2, 2016
For many months now, the doomsayers have ruled the day in agriculture. Too much supply with too little demand would Read More
West Central Dome structure
FertilizerFertilizer Logistics 2016: All Clear, So Far
May 1, 2016
After a relatively hairy early start to the spring fertilizer movement season with flooding in Louisiana and St. Louis, things Read More
BAICOR
CropLife 100BRANDT Acquires Utah Specialty Fertilizer Company
April 28, 2016
BRANDT, a leading agriculture retailer and manufacturer of specialty ag products, has acquired a majority interest in BAICOR, L.C. BAICOR, Read More
Soybean field
Industry NewsVerdesian Life Sciences Adds Vice President Of Business…
April 28, 2016
Verdesian Life Sciences has announced the addition of Marc Treurniet to the plant health and nutrition company’s management team. Treurniet Read More
ManagementBiotech Crops Developments and Millennials
April 28, 2016
Editors Eric Sfiligoj and Paul Schrimpf talk about the latest activities in biotech crops and a major shift in the Read More
Industry NewsNachurs-Alpine, Pathway Biologic Extend Marketing Agree…
April 28, 2016
Nachurs-Alpine Solutions (Marion, OH) and Pathway Biologic (Plant City, FL) announce an extension to their exclusive marketing agreement specific to Read More
MicronutrientsCharah Add Three Warehouses For SUL4R-PLUS Fertilizer
April 28, 2016
Charah, Inc., a total solutions company providing unparalleled service and innovation for the coal-fired power generation industry, announced today that Read More
Spenser Forgey, Yahama Fortix
FungicidesIndiana Farmer Wins Arysta LifeScience FORTIX Fungicide…
April 28, 2016
Arysta LifeScience North America recently presented Spenser Forgey, a grower from Young America, IN, with a new 2016 Yamaha Grizzly Read More
Corn Field
HerbicidesNew Wilbur‐Ellis Herbicide Targets Volunteer Corn
April 28, 2016
Wilbur‐Ellis Co., a recognized leader in marketing and distribution of crop protection products, as well as precision agriculture technology, has Read More
StewardshipNRCS To Help Farmers Measure Conservation Impacts On Wa…
April 27, 2016
The USDA has announced the availability of $2 million to help farmers install edge-of-field stations that monitor water quality as Read More
Planter in Iowa
EquipmentTop 10 Twitter Pics For #Plant16
April 27, 2016
Despite some wet weather in parts of the Midwest, growers and ag retailers are working feverishly to plant this year’s Read More
HerbicidesHELM AGRO Launches New HELM Sulfentrazone 4F Herbicide
April 26, 2016
HELM AGRO US, Inc. has announced the federal Section 3 registration of its new HELM Sulfentrazone 4F herbicide. Classified as a Read More
Valley Irrigation Valley 8000 series on corn
EquipmentValley Irrigation Receives Environmental Stewardship Ho…
April 26, 2016
Valley Irrigation has been recognized as a Groundwater Guardian Green Site by the Groundwater Foundation. The Groundwater Guardian Green Site Read More
Eric SfiligojMissing The Family Ties In Agriculture
April 25, 2016
By its nature, the agriculture market is cyclical. Up and down cycles come and go with a regular pattern. For Read More
HerbicidesHerbicide Resistance In Waterhemp Continues To Grow
April 22, 2016
Twenty-five years ago, waterhemp was virtually unknown to Illinois farmers. Today, the broadleaf weed blankets corn and soybean fields across Read More