A standing room only crowd greeted members of the National Grain Car Council and commissioners of the Surface Transportation Board this week at a meeting in Minneapolis. Among those offering testimony were representatives of Minnesota’s soybean industry. The Council is made up of representation of executives knowledgeable in the transportation of grain including members of the nation’s rail industry, members representing grain shippers and receivers, and members representing private rail car owners and rail car manufacturers. The Council is to convene meetings at least once a year that allow the members to discuss openly the issues affecting the grain transportation industry.
Rail reliability to serve agriculture was among the primary topics discussed at the event at the Radisson Blu hotel in Minneapolis September 11. Among those presenting was Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) Assistant Commissioner Charlie Poster, who testified about the importance of the rail industry in helping Minnesota’s agriculture industry grow to its current world-class status.
Poster told the Council that “in 1994, the value of all Minnesota exports was $1.42 billion. By 2012 that number had jumped to $8.2 billion, a 477% increase…The value of soybean exports rose from $346 million in 1994 to an eye-popping $2.247 billion in 2012. That is an increase of 548% over that time period. Farmers will be quick to tell you that rail was a great partner in that period of success. Our trading partners in Asia including China, Korea, Japan, Vietnam and others looked to the United States as the go to country for reliable, safe and affordable ag commodities.”
“Charlie did a great job of representing the changes that have occurred in agriculture over the past two decades,” says Minnesota Soybean Executive Director Tom Slunecka. “He drove home how vital the railroad industry has been to the growth of our agriculture exports.”
Earlier in the day Slunecka attended a meeting with representatives of the Union Pacific railroad to discuss challenges with reliability and availability heading into the fall harvest season.