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NGFA urge US Congress to prevent rail shutdown

NGFA urge US Congress to prevent rail shutdown

(Posted on 09/11/22)

The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) in the USA and 192 other members of the Agricultural Transportation Working Group have urged Congress to prepare to prevent a rail strike or lockout, which would “lead to shutdowns of rail-dependent facilities resulting in devastating consequences to our national and global food security.”

The NGFA, established in 1896, consists of grain, feed, processing, exporting and other grain-related companies that operate more than 8,000 facilities handling U.S. grains and oilseeds.

The Biden administration successfully brokered an agreement between the National Railway Labor Conference, which represents railroads, and 12 rail labor unions on Sept. 15. However, two unions have voted against ratifying the agreement while members of four other unions continue to review it. A strike could begin as soon as Nov. 19.

“Congressional action will be necessary if the parties fail to reach agreement,” stated the food and agriculture groups in a Nov. 3 letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. “Resolution of this dispute prior to Nov. 19 is necessary to ensure rail service continues uninterrupted. Adding urgency to this matter, critical inputs and agricultural products such as ammonia shipments could be embargoed starting on Nov. 14.”

A rail strike combined with existing challenges in the rail system would be “catastrophic” for the U.S. economy, the groups noted, especially considering the current challenges in other modes of transportation, including trucking shortages and record low water levels on the Mississippi River hindering barge shipments.

The groups urged lawmakers to be prepared to act quickly when Congress is back in session on Nov. 14.

NGFA’s membership includes grain elevators; feed and feed ingredient manufacturers; biofuels companies; grain and oilseed processors and millers; exporters; livestock and poultry integrators; and associated firms that provide goods and services to the nation’s grain, feed and processing industry. The NGFA consists of 27 affiliated State and Regional Grain and Feed Associations, is co-located and has a strategic alliance with North American Export Grain Association, and a strategic alliance with Pet Food Institute.

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