Most Iowa farmers haven’t started the harvest yet but already it’s clear there will be problems with moving the grain.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx says space for rail cars will be in short supply and he doesn’t foresee any solution coming down the tracks.
“Our Surface Transportation Board, along with our rail companies, and along with us in Washington, we’re going to have to figure out a way to create more capacity so that commodities can move,” Foxx says.
Farmers need rail cars to move their crops, but many rail cars are being diverted to allow for space for tanker cars to haul oil from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota and Montana.
“It’s an issue we have to deal with,” Foxx says. “The Surface Transportation Board has primary responsibility for it but clearly with the proliferation of the movement of crude oil by rail, it increases competition for precious rail space.” Foxx says there’s no easy fix to the looming rail crunch.
“Even if Congress funded us tomorrow, it would still take some time to get track on the ground and things going,” Foxx says. “It’s not going to be a short-term solution but again, the Surface Transportation Board has primary responsibility for trying to work out the issues that have to do with commodities moving.”
Many blame the situation on the delay in building the Keystone X-L oil pipeline across Nebraska. That pipeline could carry the Bakken oil, freeing up space on trains so thousands of rail cars could move crops.