NGFA and more than 300 other trade associations called upon the Biden administration to continue to work with rail carriers and unions to ensure a worker agreement is ratified by all parties.

“We continue to urge that the contracts be ratified to provide stability and predictability to the system,” said NGFA and 321 other local, state and federal trade associations in an Oct. 27 letter to President Joe Biden. “Your involvement can only help make that happen and ensure there is no interruption to rail service.”

As of Oct. 27, two of the 12 rail labor unions have voted against the tentative agreement based on the recommendations of the Presidential Emergency Board, while six have agreed to ratify it. If all unions do not reach an agreement with rail carriers, “we could witness a strike that would shut down the entire freight rail system,” the trade associations noted.

A rail shutdown, which potentially could occur in mid-November, “would have a significant impact on the U.S. economy and lead to further inflationary pressure,” the letter stated.

After the tentative agreement was reached between party representatives on Sept. 15, NGFA issued a statement encouraging rail unions to quickly ratify the deal and thanking President Biden and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack for their efforts.

NGFA President and CEO Mike Seyfert emphasized the harm a rail stoppage would inflict on the grain, feed, processing and export industry. “The efficient operation of our rail network, which moves 25 percent of all U.S. grain, is crucial to a functioning agricultural economy,” he said in the Sept. 15 press statement.

In the letter sent this week, the coalition of trade associations noted: “Because the White House played such a central role in the process, we believe it can be helpful in continuing to move the process forward in a positive direction. Otherwise, Congress will be called upon to act.”