Formally established in 1901, the NGFA’s Arbitration System has operated in some form since the formation of the Association on November 9, 1896. It is believed to be North America’s oldest industry-based arbitration system.
The Arbitration System provides a fair, cost-effective and timely way to resolve disputes involving grain, feed, barge and barge freight transactions. Its use is compulsory for resolution of disputes between Active members under the NGFA’s Bylaws. The Arbitration System is also available for resolving disputes with and between Associate/Trading members if the Arbitration Rules are referenced in the underlying contractual agreement or the parties otherwise consent The Arbitration System is kept current through the amendment process at the NGFA’s annual business meeting.
The Rail Arbitration Rules, first adopted on Aug. 24, 1998, supplement the Arbitration Rules. The Rail Arbitration Rules are applicable to disputes between railroads and their customers using the NGFA Arbitration System.
NGFA-member railroads and their customers can use the NGFA Arbitration System to resolve any type of dispute where both agree. All NGFA Active and Associate/Trading members are covered by, and have access to, NGFA rail arbitration unless they notify the NGFA of their desire to withdraw from the Rail Arbitration System within 30 days of membership approval. Thereafter, an Active or Associate/Trading member may withdraw from the Rail Arbitration System after providing 90-day’s advance notice to the National Secretary. See the Participants in Rail Arbitration below for a list of any NGFA-member rail carrier(s) or Active member(s) electing to withdraw from the Rail Arbitration System.
- Members Withdrawing from Rail Arbitration
All of the Class I railroads and a number of shortline and regional railroads are participating, as are most NGFA-member grain, feed and processing companies. Thus far, the following companies have elected to withdraw from the NGFA Rail Arbitration System:
Atherton Grain Co. Inc.
Cereal Byproducts Co.
Elburn Cooperative Co.
Farmers Elevator Co. of Biggs & Easton
Harmony-Preston Agri Services Inc.
Keller Grain & Feed Inc.
Marquette Transportation Company
Mid-Coast Grain Company
Quad Commodities Marketing Service Inc.
Revillo Farmers Elevator
Scott Equity Exchange
Settlemyre Seed Company
Canada Steamship Lines
Columbia Grain & Ingredients Inc.
Famo Feeds Inc.
White Commercial Corporation
Hardeman Grain and Seed Inc.
Ingram Barge Company
Lamont Grain Growers
M.D. Thompson & Son Co.
See-Mor Grain Inc.
In addition, all Class I railroads and some shortline and regional railroads have agreed to enter confidential mediation on certain rate-related issues upon request by a NGFA Active or Associate/Trading member. The text of these agreements is set forth in this publication.
Arbitration cases are prepared by the parties involved. Decisions are based upon evidence submited by the parties.
Cases are considered by an Arbitration Committee comprised of three persons selected by the NGFA secretary and approved by the NGFA chairman. Arbitrators are employees, active partners, principals, officers, or directors of Active and Associate/Trading members from different geographical areas. Arbitrators generally are selected based upon their personal experience in the type of trade practices or questions involved in the case. Arbitrators must have no commercial interest in the case.
- Arbitration Appeals Panel
First Name Last Name Company Title City State John Anderson Ritzville Warehouse Co. Chief Executive Officer Ritzville WA James Banachowski The Andersons Inc. Vice President, Eastern Region Maumee OH Michael Bilovesky Kansas City Southern Railway Vice President Marketing, Agriculture and Minerals Kansas City MO Steve Campbell Louis Dreyfus Commodities Executive Vice President – Head of North American Grains Kansas City MO Sharon Clark Perdue AgriBusiness LLC Sr. VP, Transportation & Regulatory Affairs Salisbury MD Jeffrey Edwards J & J Commodities A Division of Abbitt’s Inc. Vice President Greenville NC Charles Elsea The Scoular Company Chief Executive Officer Omaha NE Roger Krueger South Dakota Wheat Growers Association SVP, Grain Aberdeen SD Edward Milbank Milbank Mills Inc. President Chillicothe MO Steven Nail Farmers Grain Terminal Inc. President & CEO Greenville MS Dean O’Harris Parrish & Heimbecker Inc. Commodity Manager Buckeye AZ Steve Young Grainland Cooperative Grain Merchandiser Holyoke CO
Last updated: April 14, 2015
Parties involved in an arbitration case may appeal the decision of the Arbitration Committee to an Arbitration Appeals Committee, consisting of a permanent chairman and four others selected from a standing Arbitration Appeals Panel appointed by the NGFA chairman.
Usually, the Arbitration Committee or the Arbitration Appeals Committee processes cases by mailing to one another the documentation involved. However, either party may request an oral hearing, in which case it must be granted.
Arbitration committees endeavor to decide cases within 30 days after receipt of papers and documentary evidence pertaining to the case. Each award under the Arbitration System subsequently is published as an Arbitration Decision bulletin and is mailed to all NGFA members. New decisions are also posted on the NGFA web site.
USE OF NGFA TRADE RULES AND ARBITRATION RULES FOR CROSS-BORDER TRANSACTIONS IN NORTH AMERICA
Increasingly, NGFA members reference the NGFA’s Trade Rules and Arbitration Rules in contracts with firms located in Mexico and Canada. In addition, Canadian and Mexican firms that become NGFA Associate/Trading members are expressly permitted to reference the NGFA’s Trade Rules and/or Arbitration Rules in their contracts, or otherwise consent to have the NGFA’s rules apply. However, before referencing the rules in cross-border trade, it is advisable to consult competent legal counsel and review at least three international treaties that govern such transactions, which are summarized below:
- “The United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sales of Goods” (52 Fed. Reg. 6262). The United States, Mexico and Canada are signatores to this treaty, which creates a type of international code for sales of goods. Importantly, parties can exclude application of this treaty to particular transactions by express contractual provisions.
- “The Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards” (9 U.S.C. Section 201 et. seq.), which governs the enforcement of arbitration provisions and awards between United States and Canadian firms.
- “The Inter-American Convention on International Commercial Arbitration” (9 U.S.C. Section 301 et. seq.), which governs the enforcement of arbitration provisions and awards between United States and Mexican firms.