The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

US regulators order BNSF, Canadian Pacific to report weekly on efforts to clear grain backlog

  • Print

OMAHA, Neb. - A backlog of grain shipments across the Great Plains has been reduced but not eliminated, so U.S. regulators are requiring BNSF and Canadian Pacific railroads to provide weekly updates on their efforts to catch up before harvest.

The U.S. Surface Transportation Board told BNSF and Canadian Pacific to submit plans to address the backlog by this Friday and begin filing weekly updates. The updates are similar to those regulators required on fertilizer shipments this spring after farm groups complained.

The delays in grain shipments have been especially pronounced in northern Plains states, such as North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana and Minnesota. Critics blame increased crude oil and freight shipments for the delays, but the railroads have said a brutally cold winter and rail congestion in Chicago caused the backlog.

Regulators said both railroads have made some progress in reducing their backlogs of grain car orders, but many grain elevators still have little space available, with harvest beginning around Aug. 1 in the northern Plains. The backlog has meant farmers aren't getting paid for their crops.

"The Board remains very concerned about the limited time period until the next harvest, the large quantities of grain yet to be moved, and the railroads' paths toward meeting their respective commitments," regulators said in their order, issued last Friday.

Mark Watne, president of the North Dakota Farmers Union, said Monday that he remains concerned about the railroads' ability to move enough grain to clear storage space for the harvest. Most grain elevators prefer to be nearly empty before harvest, and Watne said a recent survey of North Dakota grain elevators showed most were close to three-quarters full.

"I don't think there's any way they will be ready for harvest," he said.

Watne said some farmers have had to get extensions on operating loans while they want to get their crops to market. If the grain backlog lingers into fall, some farmers will have difficulty selling their crops.

BNSF spokeswoman Amy Casas said Monday the railroad expects to be prepared for this fall's harvest. Fort Worth, Texas-based BNSF has reduced its systemwide backlog of grain shipments from 14,618 carloads in mid-April to 9,175 carloads as of last Friday.

"We have steadily moved increasing volumes of grain and grain products over the last several months, moving more year-to-date in 2014 than the same period in 2013," Casas said in a statement for the railroad owned by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

Canadian Pacific spokesman Ed Greenberg said Monday that officials at his Calgary, Alberta-based railroad were still reviewing the Surface Transportation Board order, but he said Canadian Pacific is working to address congestion in the Midwest and meet customer requirements.

The weekly reports to regulators will be required until BNSF and Canadian Pacific have dealt with the backlogs.

___

Follow Josh Funk online at www.twitter.com/funkwrite

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Reimagining Winnipeg as the big city of the future

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A monarch butterfly looks for nectar in Mexican sunflowers at Winnipeg's Assiniboine Park Monday afternoon-Monarch butterflys start their annual migration usually in late August with the first sign of frost- Standup photo– August 22, 2011   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • Carolyn Kavanagh(10) had this large dragonfly land on her while spending time at Winnetka Lake, Ontario. photo by Andrea Kavanagh (mom0 show us your summer winnipeg free press

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Do you support Canada's involvement in the fight against Islamic State?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google