Northern Commodity Transportation Conference to look at railway system

Commodity groups looking to improve exports are zeroing in on the railway system in the Upper Midwest.

Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council CEO Tom Slunecka says farmer-leaders from 12 organizations in Minnesota and the Dakotas are organizing a first-of-its-kind transportation conference the second week of March.

“Some of the issues facing the rail industry are precision railroading. That’s a new phenomenon that’s slowing down our transportation.”

He tells Brownfield the problem is some railroads no longer use unit-log loading that ethanol plants, soy processing plants, and larger grain elevators have invested millions of dollars in.

“They’re taking five or six, maybe 20, cars at a time. And now those grain elevators have to track those cars all throughout the United States. They don’t know when they’re going to come back, they don’t know when they’re going to get to reload them again. And it just adds cost to the system.”

Slunecka says truck weight limits are another burden to moving ag products out of the region.

The Northern Commodity Transportation Conference will be March 11th and 12th in Bloomington, Minnesota.

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