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Farmers concerned fertilizer won't arrive in time for planting

Railways ordered to report on fertilizer shipment plans

Farmers have told the Department of Transportation's Surface Transportation Board that they are concerned fertilizer won't be delivered in time for spring planting. Responding to their concerns, the board ordered the Burlington Northern Santa Fe and Canadian Pacific railways to start providing weekly status reports over the next six weeks of fertilizer delivery data by state and indicate the number of cars shipped or received and number of cars placed during each prior week. They were told to include actual performance vs. trip plan data for fertilizer shipments. The goal is to maintain timely delivery of enough fertilizer throughout the Midwest so farmers can begin planting.

The order came during an STB hearing at which farmers told the STB “that without timely delivery of adequate amounts of fertilizer, they will not be able to commence spring planting for the 2014 crop,” the STB reported.

BNSF Railway Co. told the board it intends to add trains in Montana, the Dakotas and Minnesota to move fertilizer. The rails said their ongoing service problems in the Midwest are due to several problems, including cold temperatures, heavy snows, limited capacity and slowed speeds. Also, oil and gas shipments have competed for rail capacity.