ARLINGTON, Va., June 28, 2023 — The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) issued a statement supporting the Reliable Rail Service Act (S.2071), a bill recently introduced by Sens. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc., and Roger Marshall, R-Kan., that would better define Class I rail carriers’ common carrier obligation.
“Clarification of the common carrier obligation has been needed for decades and this bipartisan bill provides STB with clear oversight rules to help address our nation’s freight railroad supply chain challenges and improve rail service for agricultural shippers,” NGFA President and CEO Mike Seyfert said. “NGFA members appreciate the leadership of Sens. Baldwin and Marshall in responding to rail service issues and cosponsoring this legislation, which will help regulators respond to service disruptions that cause hardship for livestock producers, grain exporters, and grain processing facilities.”
The Staggers Act of 1980 required rail carriers to serve the wider shipping public “on reasonable request,” a principle known as the common carrier obligation. However, more than 40 years later, the common carrier obligation remains poorly defined with no established criteria.
The Reliable Rail Service Act statutorily clarifies the common carrier obligation and establishes specific criteria for the Surface Transportation Board (STB) to consider when determining whether a railroad is meeting this obligation to provide rail service. If the STB determined a carrier was not meeting its common carrier obligation, the bill would empower the STB to prescribe service standards consistent with the needs of the shipper making the request.
The NGFA, established in 1896, consists of grain, feed, processing, exporting and other grain-related companies that operate more than 8,000 facilities handling U.S. grains and oilseeds. Its membership includes grain elevators; feed and feed ingredient manufacturers; biofuels companies; grain and oilseed processors and millers; exporters; livestock and poultry integrators; and associated firms that provide goods and services to the nation’s grain, feed and processing industry. The NGFA consists of 27 affiliated State and Regional Grain and Feed Associations, is co-located and has a strategic alliance with North American Export Grain Association, and a strategic alliance with Pet Food Institute.