GOP senators on ag panel ask for withdrawal of WOTUS interpretive rule (via Agri-Pulse Communications)

Senate Agriculture Committee Republicans are asking EPA to withdraw the so-called interpretive rule released with its “Waters of the U.S.” (WOTUS) proposal, saying it could “fundamentally alter interaction between farmers and the federal government.”

In a letter to EPA chief Gina McCarthy and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, the senators said the WOTUS regulations would bring more waters — including streams, creeks, wetlands, ponds and ditches — under the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act, making them subject to EPA permitting requirements.  The agriculture Interpretive Rule outlines just 56 activities out of more than 160 conservation practices that previously qualified for the normal farming and ranching exemption, they said.

“We have heard from farmers, ranchers, and other rural constituents about the Interpretive Rule and are deeply concerned it has created great confusion about what agriculture activities are exempt from regulation under the Clean Water Act,” the senators said in their letter.

The lawmakers, led by Thad Cochran of Mississippi, the Agriculture Committee’s ranking member asks, that the interpretive rule be withdrawn, asserting that farming, ranching and rural constituencies had little opportunity to provide input on the new rule. The letter was also signed by Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Pat Roberts of Kansas, Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, John Boozman of Arkansas, John Hoeven of North Dakota, Mike Johanns of Nebraska, Chuck Grassley of Iowa and John Thune of South Dakota.

“Beyond adding confusion and uncertainty, the Interpretive Rule would fundamentally change the relationship between the Department of Agriculture and farm families.  Over decades of farm policy, USDA has established an unprecedented relationship of trust with farmers, ranchers, and rural stakeholders.  This unique relationship is built on voluntary conservation programs and a mutual commitment to protecting natural resources and keeping land in agriculture.  Bringing USDA into the Clean Water Act permitting process would profoundly shift the nature of this successful approach by dismantling a longstanding partnership between the Federal government and agriculture community,” the Senators wrote.

In a news release, the senators note that the letter is the latest step taken by Republicans on the agriculture panel to raise concerns with the Obama administration about the WOTUS initiative. And they point out that the regulatory proposal was the main topic when McCarthy met with the senators in July to discuss the effect of what they see as “aggressive EPA regulatory expansion on agriculture and rural states.”

Now, they say they are calling for more transparency and stakeholder involvement.

“As the administration continues to extend the timeframe for finalization of the flawed WOTUS proposal, any further discussion of how agricultural activities may fit into this framework must allow for a transparent and public process in which the voice of American agriculture can be heard,” the senators’ letter concluded.

The letter was also addressed to Army Secretary John McHugh, who oversees the Army Corps of Engineers, which jointly issued the WOTUS proposal with EPA.

For more news, go to: www.Agri-Pulse.com

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Developing a Strategic Communications and Government Relations Plan for 2016

Traditionally, companies and trade associations begin considering their government relations planning for the upcoming year during the 4th quarter of the current year.  The organizations that do so want to be well-organized, with a solid government relations and communications game plan that can be activated as the situation warrants.

This includes preliminary groundwork within the legislative and executive branches of government so that elected officials and regulatory decision makers are well aware of the organization, as well as its mission and agenda, prior to full implementation of the strategic plan.

Although 2016 may seem a while away, within the public policy arena, it is not.  Organizations that wait until January to begin drafting their government relations plan often begin their engagement in the legislative and regulatory arenas at a disadvantage.  A strategic and tactical government relations game plan allows for an organization to effectively hit the ground running when Congress and state legislatures convene early in 2016.

If your company or organization has been giving serious thought as to the management of your policy and political capital in 2016, RDL & Associates would welcome the opportunity to assist you in the development of your government relations plan for the upcoming year.

We specialize in government relations, policy development and analysis, strategic communications, message development and delivery, coalition development and online outreach.

State lobbying and federal lobbying are not mutually exclusive and the strategic partnerships developed by RDL & Associates allows for seamless legislative representation for our clients.

Working with our strategic partners, including firms headquartered in Washington, D.C. and St. Paul, MN, we have the capacity to integrate federal and state lobbying, public affairs and communications services in a bipartisan fashion so as to provide cost-effective strategies for our clients.

Our collaborations provide for a true team approach and create additional opportunities and efficiencies for our clients.  Combined, our firms have over sixty years of legislative, regulatory and political experience.   As such, RDL& Associates provides a distinctive advantage at the federal, state, and local level.

Developing such an effort does not have to be cost-prohibitive.  The fee structure of our can be negotiated so that it best reflects the work expected of RDL & Associates and your organization’s internal budget for such work.

If RDL & Associates might be helpful in developing a government relations effort for your organization, we would welcome the opportunity to speak with you and your colleagues as your schedules permit.

Dave Ladd, President of RDL & Associates, can  be reached at (651) 247-5458 or via e-mail at daveladd66@gmail.com.

We thank you in advance for your consideration.

The State of Rural Minnesota (via Center for Rural Policy and Development)

Each year, the Center for Rural Policy and Development assembles the latest demographic and economic data to create the State of Rural Minnesota report. Most of the data used for the presentation can also be found at the Center’s Atlas of Minnesota Online.

The 2014 State of Rural Minnesota report can be accessed here:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/tuew2bbh66od36o/State%20of%20Rural%20Minnesota%20Report%20%282014%29.pdf?dl=0

To learn more about the Center for Rural Policy and Development, based in Minnesota, and to review additional research initiatives, please visit:

http://www.ruralmn.org/

UPDATE 1: EPA approves Dow’s Enlist herbicide for GMO soy, corn (via Reuters)

The Environmental Protection Agency gave final approval on Wednesday to a new herbicide developed by Dow AgroSciences that has faced broad opposition, ordering a series of restrictions to address potential environmental and health hazards.

EPA said it was applying “first-time-ever restrictions” on its approval of the herbicide, called Enlist Duo, which is designed to be used with new genetically modified crops developed by Dow AgroSciences, a unit of Dow Chemical.

The herbicide was developed by Dow as an answer to severe weed resistance problems that are limiting crop production around the country.

EPA said the approval lays out a template of new requirements for future approvals of herbicides designed for use with genetically modified crops.

Dow will be required to closely monitor and report to EPA to ensure that weeds are not becoming resistant to Enlist Duo, the agency said. As well, EPA is ordering a 30-foot in-field “no spray” buffer zone around application areas. It has also banned use when wind speeds are over 15 miles per hour.

Initially, Enlist Duo will be allowed only in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin. EPA will take public comments until Nov. 14 about approving the product for use in Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Nebraska Oklahoma, Tennessee and North Dakota.

EPA will review its approval of Enlist Duo in six years rather than the usual 15 years.

The EPA decision comes after the U.S. Department of Agriculture gave final approval last month to Enlist corn and soybeans, which have been altered to tolerate being sprayed with Enlist Duo herbicide. The specialty crops and the herbicide are to be sold as a branded “Enlist Weed Control System”.

Like the popular Roundup Ready system developed by rival Monsanto Co, farmers who plant Enlist crops can spray over the crops in their fields with Enlist herbicide and kill weeds but not the crops.

Heavy use of Roundup herbicide triggered an explosion of herbicide-resistant “super weeds” that are hard for farmers to fight and which can choke off crop yields. Such weeds now infest roughly 70 million acres of U.S. farmland, according to Dow.

Enlist Duo combines a 60-year-old herbicide component known as 2,4-D with glyphosate, the chief ingredient in Roundup. Using the 2,4-D in combination with glyphosate should help farmers kill weeds that are resistant to Roundup, Dow officials say. Dow pegs the market for Enlist at about $1 billion, and hopes to start selling the system for the 2015 U.S. spring planting season.

There has been broad opposition to Enlist Duo. Critics say use of 2,4-D has been linked to a range of health problems, including reproductive problems, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and Parkinson’s disease. They also fear the new herbicide could drift into neighboring farm fields, harming crops there. And they say that in the long run it will only increase weed resistance problems.

The EPA received more than 400,000 comments about Enlist Duo. In one letter, dated June 30, 2014, the Environmental Working Group nonprofit advocacy organization listed the names of more than 77,000 people asking EPA to deny approval.

But the EPA said its scientists used “highly conservative and protective” assumptions to evaluate the human health and ecological risks of Enlist Duo and that usage as approved will protect the public, agricultural workers, and endangered species.

The agency said it evaluated the risks to all age groups, from infants to the elderly, and took into account exposure through food, water, pesticide drift, and as a result of use around homes.

“Our decision reflects sound science… and is protective of everyone and the environment,” said Jim Jones, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention.

(Reporting by Carey Gillam in Kansas City; Editing by Peter Galloway)

Daley Farms hopes to grow (via the Winona Post)

It may dwarf most dairies in the county, boast advanced technologies, and hold piles of silage that rival Lewiston city blocks in size, but the Daley Farms is still a family business. In a glamorous rubber apron, Sonja Daley washed the udders of cows on a rotating carousel parlor before milking last week. In mud-splattered muck boots, Brian Daley hopped out of the tractor cab at the base of a hill-sized silage pile. In the farm’s gravel lot, Ben Daley pulled the brim of his ball cap down as he mulled over the logistics for fall manure application.

The farm just got done with a successful silage harvest. Some of the farms’ 28 full-time employees ran choppers through 1,000 acres of corn, while Brian unloaded the shredded corn plants, pushed them into piles, and drove his tractor on top to compact the piles. “It’s scary,” Shelly (nee Daley) DePestel said of driving up the side of a hill of corn. “For me it’s not,” Brian replied. “I’ve been doing it for 25 years.”

For over a week, the farmers and their crews unloaded 200 truckloads of silage each day. When the corn in the field reaches its “sweet spot” for nutrition content, the harvest is on and it does not stop until all the corn is in — or the fields get too wet. Shelly gave thanks that it all went safely.

Now that silage is done, Brian and the tractor operators will be hauling in ear corn. After consulting with the farm’s nutritionist, the homegrown feed will be mixed with cottonseed and canola oil for cows who recently gave birth — fresh cows — or extra fiber for calving cows. The feed mixes are all calculated by computer and automatically sent out to the feed truck, which mixes and distributes the fresh feed to the barns.

Ben checked up the calving cows and the progress of growing heifers last week. He also coordinates the farm’s manure management. Cows do not only take in feed and produce milk, after all. In between each milking session, crews scoop up the sand bedding in each cow’s stall — imagine a litter box — and scrape out the barn. Most dairies throw the sand and manure in together for use as fertilizer, but the Daley Farms separates the sand out, washes it, and reuses it. The manure is held in a great, rubber-lined lagoon or basin behind the barns.

Its manure management is one area where the Daley Farms has invested in technologies that conserve resources. In addition to recycling its sand, the farm uses a gray water to wash the sand. By the time it touches, the sand the water has been used three other times. First, the clean water is cooling milk; next, that water is used to spray down the carousel milking parlor; then the same water is used to flush the floor of the milking parlor holding area; and finally, the water is used to wash the sand.

When it comes time to apply its manure as fertilizer, the Daley Farms hires a company from Red Wing that injects the manure straight into the soil. Tubes like fire hoses pump the manure up to three miles away and tractors with implements that squirt the liquid manure directly into the ground drive around the Daley fields. The unique system requires less truck traffic, causes less compaction, and gets less excrement on local roads than normal manure spreaders, and the injection system reduces nitrogen runoff.

At the manure lagoon itself, liquid manure has to be “stirred” before pumping for application. The Daley Farms previously used several pumping trucks pumping the liquid in and out of the edge of the lagoon in order to stir the whole pond. However, that system is far less efficient than its new manure boat. The manure boat is a floating pumping station that uses far less fuel to “stir” the lagoon.

“It’s just part of the business,” said Shelly, when asked about the omnipresence of manure at a dairy. “We’ve always had it and it always needs to be taken care of; it’s at a different scale [than smaller diaries]. Technology can make it easier and less labor intensive. I’m not afraid of technology.”

Shelly does have non-farmer friends who think manure is gross, but standing next to the manure lagoon, she observed, “It doesn’t smell too bad here and we’re standing right next to it.” She continued, “It’s sort of like any environment. Like Brian said, if I had stay in a cubical all day, that’s my ‘ew’ … there are unpleasantries in a lot of places. This is a valuable asset that we can use.”

Brian grew up working for his dad at the Daley Farms, but it was far from a given that he would ever come back. When he was 18 he could not get far enough away from his father, he said. He had to settle for two hours away, in Minneapolis, where he got a degree in psychology from the University of Minnesota. “[I studied psychology] just so I could figure out my dad,” he said, laughing. After school, he discovered that being around his father was strangely palatable, and Minneapolis did not steal his heart. “I knew that was not where I wanted to live — sirens, concrete,” he said. When his father expanded the dairy, Brian and his siblings returned.

Now, the Daley family wants to expand again in order to bring in the next generation. Shelly’s son Dylan wants to come back and farm. Her son Dominick is still in high school, but says he wants to farm. Sonja’s daughter Sidney wants to return, too, and so does Neil and Hally Daley’s son Gabe. The family applied for a county variance to more than double its herd of 1,400 cows, but will first need to submit an Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW) to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. Winona County staff said that the results of the EAW will be important to judge whether the increased manure could affect local ground water. For the Daleys, being able to keep the young adults in their family would mean a lot.

“A lot of people sling a lot of words like ‘corporate,'” Shelly said, referring to people who criticize the Daley Farms’ size. “It’s us. It’s my family.”

She points to a picture of the farm office wall of the farm her grandfather bought in the 1930s. He died when her father was 8 years old, but the farm did not fail. “I’m not that far removed from that,” she said of the small dairy, with little technology. “They had it hard. I get it. Why would you wish that upon future generations?”

 

   Copyright © 2014, Winona Post, All Rights Reserved.

 

Tips for Biofuel Investment In Turbulent Times (via DomesticFuel.com)

As a biofuels plant, how do you make sound plant management and investment decisions in an environment of political turmoil? This was the theme of one of the panel discussions during the 2014 National Advanced Biofuels Conference that took place in Minnesota this week. The conversation focused on how the uncertainty surrounding the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) that has not been finalized for 2014 as of this writing, affects decisions made for biofuels plants. The panelists discussed tips and strategies on how they try to keep their business healthy and growing while also trying to position themselves for continued, future success.

Insights were given by Mike Jerke, CEO, Guardian Energy Management LLC; Brian Kletscher, CEO/General Manager, Highwater Ethanol; and Randall Doyal, CEO/General Manager, AL-Corn Clean Fuel who all run currently operating ethanol production facilities. While each one pointed to the prices of feedstocks as being the number one cost of production (feedstock costs are 80 percent of a plant’s production costs) there are other ways to streamline efficiencies to stay competitive and one strategy is to diversify into bolt on advanced biofuels technologies.

Doyal noted that the big takeaway for the attendees was that the existing ethanol industry is looking at those next generation biofuel opportunities. “They look down the road all the time, and that the existing ethanol plants are not Gen 1 – we’re way down the road from Gen 1. We’re far more advanced than that and we look forward to bringing that type of thinking into advanced biofuels,” Doyal said.

When focusing on policy, Doyal said policy directly affects a plant when it decides how to deploy its capital. “If you have uncertainty in policy, it creates an uncertain environment in the lending community and it creates uncertainty in your own board room.”

Doyal stressed, “If you don’t have good, consistent, clear policy, it’s hard to figure out your path forward.”

Listen here to Chuck’s interview with Randall Doyal speaking about how policy uncertainty affects plant decisions: Interview with Randall Doyal, AL-Corn Clean Fuel

Click here to listen to the comments of the three panelists:
Remarks from Mike Jerke, Guardian Energy Management
Remarks from Brian Kletscher, Highwater Ethanol

Remarks from Randall Doyal, AL-Corn Clean Fuel

 

 

 

Commentary: Why all the fuss over GMO labeling? (Dave Ladd, RDL & Associates)

Throughout history the need for an abundant, reliable and affordable food supply has been at the heart of social and political stability as governments recognize food security as a national security priority. In fact, food security and national security go hand-in-hand.

It is estimated that by 2050 the world population will need 100 percent more food, with 70 percent of this food coming from enhanced-efficiency technology. Commonly referred to as biotechnology, these practices increase crop yields, reduce production costs and enrich staple foods – such as through the addition of essential vitamins.

Biotechnology also helps reduce the environmental impact of agricultural practices, can increase nutrient absorption by livestock and can create crops that are tolerant of poor environmental conditions (e.g. drought).

Foods produced utilizing advanced agricultural technologies, referred to by some as food from genetically modified organisms (GMOs), have “officially” been in the food supply for approximately 20 years. In reality, we are late-comers when it comes to using technology. Nature has been naturally using genetic modification on its own for millions of years.

Despite recent defeats at the ballot box in California (2012) and Washington (2013), as well as a court challenge to Vermont’s 2014 legislation, opponents of enhanced agricultural technologies continue their efforts to stigmatize GMOs.

As the clock ticks toward the mid-term elections, ballot initiatives in Colorado and Oregon that would require the labeling of foods made with genetically modified ingredients could have a substantial impact on the farm and food sectors. Not just in those states, but as an overall barometer as to the efficacy of a state-by-state patchwork approach to GMO labeling.

One of the deceptive arguments posited by GMO opponents is that consumers have a right to know what they feed their families. This claim, however, simply doesn’t pass the “smell test”.

The issue of GMO labeling is not necessarily one of consumer choice. Consumers already have a choice to purchase non-GMO products, if that is their preference, and misguided labeling initiatives could unnecessarily scare consumers away from safe foods that offer nutritional benefits.

Opponents also contend that voluntary labeling is inadequate and is not a substitute for mandatory disclosure. A state-by-state approach, however, could lead to higher prices for consumers as producers and processors have to address different rules across different states.

According to a recent study by economists at Cornell University, mandatory GMO labeling will raise food costs for American families by an average of $500 per year. Farmers and food producers would need to build an expensive new supply chain system to track GMO crops from seed to store shelves, incurring costs that would be passed along to American consumers.

Policymakers should seek a market based solution that is consumer driven and not a patchwork state systems. To the extent GMO labeling is instituted, it should not be done in a patchwork fashion and a federal standard that reflects a market-based solution is far preferable. Voluntary labeling allows competition and consumer demand to determine the solution.

Legislation pending in the United States House of Representatives would be a major step in the right direction. The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2014 (H.R. 4432) would create a uniform national program governing the premarket review and labeling of GMOs. It would require the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to conduct a safety review of all new plant varieties used for genetically engineered food before those foods are introduced into commerce.

The pending legislation would also create a new legal framework, subject to FDA oversight, that would govern the use of label claims regarding either the absence of, or use of, GMO food or food ingredients. In addition, it would require the FDA to develop a Federal definition of “natural” claims on product labels.

The world continues to benefit from investments made by the U.S. to ensure the safety of its food system – benefits which have made the world a more food secure place than it has ever been in history. U.S. agriculture has a prominent role to play in ensuring that all people around the world have access to affordable food and that consumers are able to spend their food budget on the widest variety of food choices.

Dave Ladd is a frequent guest commentator regarding public policy and the political environment. His company, RDL & Associates, assists clients in achieving their legislative and policy objectives via strategic communications, message development and interaction with elected officials.

Governors, Attorneys General say CWA Rule a Legal Threat to Farmers (via DTN)

Since the release of the proposed waters of the U.S. rule, the EPA has maintained it is simply codifying those waters that already are jurisdictional, and that it narrows down the scope of those waters covered with new definitions, and farmers have nothing to fear if they don’t already need permits.

A group of governors and state attorneys general are unconvinced. As thousands of comments continue to pour in on the proposed rule — at last count exceeding 400,000 — governors and state attorneys general from across the country have asked the EPA to withdraw the rule in public comments submitted to the agency Wednesday. EPA extended the public comment period deadline from Oct. 20 to Nov. 14 this week, essentially in an attempt to fulfill a promise made to Congress this year that the work of a scientific advisory board looking at connectivity science would complete its work before the rule was finalized.

While EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy visited a farm in eastern Missouri this summer and struck a conciliatory tone in a speech to the Agricultural Business Council of Kansas City — asking for input from farmers and others in attendance so as promote understanding of the rule — the agency still has not scheduled or held public listening sessions in the Midwest or anywhere in farm country for that matter.

Farmers interviewed by DTN continue to say they are confused by the rule and have received no clarification from EPA.

In the comment letter to EPA, the group of governors and attorneys general said the rule has created uncertainty in the agriculture community.

“The proposed rule’s scope is truly breathtaking,” they said in the letter. “The rule introduces terms such as ‘tributary,’ ‘riparian area,’ and ‘flood plain’ and then defines these terms extremely broadly, in order to declare that large amounts of intrastate land and waters are always within the agencies’ authority.”

Attorneys general signing the letter include Patrick Morrisey, West Virginia; Jon Bruning, Nebraska; E. Scott Pruitt, Oklahoma; Luther Strange, Alabama; Michael C. Geraghty, Alaska; Samuel S. Olens, Georgia; Derek Schmidt, Kansas; James D. “Buddy” Caldwell, Louisiana; Wayne Stenehjem, North Dakota; Alan Wilson, South Carolina; and Marty J. Jackley, South Dakota.

Governors signing on include Iowa’s Terry E. Branstad, Sam Brownback of Kansas, Phil Bryant in Mississippi, David Heineman of Nebraska, Pat McCrory in North Carolina, and Nikki Haley of South Carolina.

“The rule then pairs that already capacious coverage with a virtually limitless catch-all such that almost no water or occasional wet land is ever safe from federal regulation,” the letter said. “The rule seeks to bring within the agencies’ power every water and land that happens to lie within giant floodplains on the supposition that those waters and lands may connect to national waters after a once-in-decade rainstorm.

“It sweeps in roadside ditches that are dry most of the year so long as those ditches have a bank and a minimum amount of water flow at some points in the year. It captures little creeks that happen to lie within what the agencies may define as a ‘riparian area’ and covers many little ponds, ditches and streams. And it gives farmers and homeowners no certainty that their farms and backyards are ever safe from federal regulation.”

The governors and attorneys general said the rule “disregards the statutory requirement mandating respect for state primacy in the area of land and water preservation and instead makes the federal government the primary regulator of much of intrastate waters and sometimes wet land in the United States.”

Many farmers continue to question whether they will need — for the first time — to apply for Clean Water Act permits with the new rule. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said this summer permits would not be necessary if they’re not required now.

The governors and attorneys general said they believe the rule puts farmers in potential legal jeopardy.

“The proposed rule treats numerous isolated bodies of water as subject to the agencies’ jurisdiction, resulting in landowners having to seek permits or face substantial fines and criminal enforcement actions,” they said. “Nor must land have water on it permanently, seasonally, or even yearly for it to be a ‘water’ regulated under the act. And if a farmer makes a single mistake, perhaps not realizing that his land is covered under the CWA’s permit requirements, he could be subject to thousands of dollars in fines and even prison time.”

Comments can be mailed to EPA at: EPA, Mail Code 2822T, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20460. Attention: Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2011-0880.

Comments can be submitted online here, http://tinyurl.com/…

Read the governors’ and attorneys general’s comments here, http://tinyurl.com/…

Follow Todd Neeley on Twitter @toddneeleyDTN

STB requires more data reporting on rail shipments (via The Hagstrom Report)

Continuing to react to rail car shortages and delays in the Midwest, the Surface Transportation Board on Wednesday required that all railroads nationwide reveal more data about shipment delays of all products — including those from agriculture, energy and other commodities — on October 22.

In a statement the STB noted that it had held a public hearing on September 4 in Fargo, N.D., so that witnesses could discuss the problem and give interested persons the opportunity to report on rail service problems and react to them.

During and after the hearings, shippers expressed concerns about the lack of publicly available rail service metrics and requested access to certain performance data from the railroads to help them better understand the scope, magnitude, and impact of the current service issues.

Following the April hearing, the board directed BNSF and CP to provide weekly status reports on fertilizer shipments and the transportation of grain on their networks (for CP, on its United States network).

“The order requires all Class I railroads — which includes the largest railroads in the U.S., including Canadian Pacific and Burlington Northern Santa Fe — throughout the country to release more data of all rail shipments, not just agriculture shipments, moving forward,” Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D. said in a news release.

“This data includes average speeds, dwell times, number of cars loaded and emptied, weekly number of grain cars ordered, loaded, billed, overdue, and cancelled by state, and more,” Heitkamp said. “Such data will allow the STB to see any changes in delays of agriculture shipments, and if there are similar delays of other products, such as crude oil and coal.”

“Today, the STB is taking needed action to hold the railroads accountable, require more transparency from the railroads on all products shipped on the rails, and make sure all products — whether grain, oil, coal, or anything else — are treated equally and fairly in how they are transported,” she added.

Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., also issued a statement on the situation.

“Rail service in Minnesota is a mess — it’s hurting farmers, businesses, utilities, and communities throughout our state,” Franken said.

“They all tell me that shipping delays are a serious threat to their livelihoods, and that they’re fed up with rising prices and subpar service.”

 

New RFA Chairman Focusing On RFS And Rail Issues (via WNAX Radio)

The primary focuses for the new Chairman of the Renewable Fuels Association includes the yet to be released rule on the volume requirements for the RFS and Rail backlogs. Randy Doyal , General Manager and CEO of AL Corn Clean Fuel in Claremont, Minnesota says the top issue is the RFS and who or what determines what those volume levels are. Doyal says another major concern is the backlog of rail service that’s effecting all renewable fuels, ag commodities and other shipments. Doyal says while the rail issue needs a long term solution they’re hoping the Office of Management and Budget will release EPA’s RFS volume requirement rule soon.

The interview can be accessed here: http://wnax.com/news/180081-new-rfa-chairman-focusing-on-rfs-and-rail-issues/