Arlington, VA– The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) March 24 urged the Surface Transportation Board (STB) to address “significant rail service disruptions” negatively impacting the nation’s supply chains.

In a March 24 letter to STB Chairman Marty Oberman, NGFA President and CEO Mike Seyfert said rail customers are not being adequately served by the Union Pacific (UP), Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) and Norfolk Southern (NS) railroads.

“NGFA’s preference is to seek commercial solutions between individual rail customers and their rail carriers,” Seyfert said. “However, the service issues that our member companies are raising indicate that the problem is a network problem affecting entire regions of the country.”

At rail origins, NGFA members are unable to purchase grain from farmers because they are waiting for loaded trains to be moved out by the railroad.

Conversely, at rail destinations, NGFA members have run out of grain and have been forced to shut down flour and feed mills and cut off sales to customers while awaiting grain deliveries.

In some cases, NGFA members have been unable to deliver feed to livestock producers that may not have alternative feed sources. “In an effort to continue service for customers during the rail service disruptions, NGFA members have done as much as possible to keep animals fed, but the ability to stretch resources is exhausted and growing more tenuous with each additional day of service delays,” the letter noted.

NGFA said the railways’ adoption and implementation of “precision scheduled railroading” has negatively impacted their ability to recover from operational stresses and serve customers.

The Association asked STB to request weekly rail service updates and plans from rail carriers to bring rail service “up to an acceptable level.”

NGFA also urged STB to require that rail carriers provide annual service assurance plans to help reduce the probability of future widespread rail service disruptions.

Read the full letter here.