Railroads transport about 900 million bushels of U.S. soybeans each year, and this volume is expected to reach 1.4 billion bushels by 2020. A recent soy-checkoff-funded Soy Transportation Coalition (STC) report shows railroads are performing well under the increasing pressure. The fourth annual Railroad Report Card shows agricultural shippers are more satisfied with rail transport than they’ve been in previous years.
“Our railroads are a vital link in keeping U.S. soy competitive in the global marketplace,” says Mary Lou Smith, a checkoff farmer-leader and soybean farmer from Petersburg, Mich. “Rail shipping helps ensure the timely delivery of soybeans to end-use customers.”
On average, railroads received higher ratings on quality customer service and resolving customer issues this year than in the past. But many respondents indicated that some railroads did not provide adequate notification of price increases.
The report also ranked CSX Transportation as the top-performing railroad for the first time.
The STC developed the report card from an anonymous survey of agricultural shippers from a variety of operations that ranged in size and scale. The survey included the nation’s seven Class I railroads: Burlington Northern Santa Fe, CSX Transportation, Kansas City Southern, Norfolk Southern, Union Pacific, Canadian National and Canadian Pacific.
Efficient railroads, highways and inland waterways give U.S. soy a competitive advantage over other soy producers in the international marketplace. The checkoff has made maintaining the U.S. transportation system a priority issue.
“The condition of the entire U.S. transportation is important to the profitability of all U.S. soybean farmers,” says Smith. “The checkoff is working to make sure we maintain a competitive edge.”