December 10, 2015

Contact: Andrew Jerome, 202-314-3106

WASHINGTON (December 10, 2015) – National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson applauded the House of Representatives passage of S. 808, a bill that reforms and reauthorizes the Surface Transportation Board (STB). The measure would improve freight rail review processes, increase the efficiency of dispute resolution, and improve transparency and accountability.

“Freight rail is essential for family farmers across the country in both getting their crops to market and staying competitive in a global environment,” said Johnson. “Adoption of these reforms is an important step towards ensuring a more appropriate balance between the rail industry and their customers.”

The STB has not been reauthorized since it was created in 1995. The bill would make important reforms to more effectively handle freight rail challenges, such as giving the STB investigatory authority, creating a voluntary arbitration system, and requiring the STB to maintain a simplified and more efficient rate review mechanism when other review processes are too burdensome. The bill also calls on the rail industry to invest appropriate resources to maintain rail service levels to prevent the types of service breakdowns such as were experienced in 2013 and 2014.

“Train service delays over the past two years significantly impacted family farmers and rural communities,” said Johnson. “Freight rates have continued to increase while service had badly deteriorated for a significant portion of two harvest seasons. This dynamic has illustrated the need for serious reform. We are optimistic that the reforms included in this bi-partisan bill will be a positive step for family farmers that depend on freight rail for the movement of their crops,” he said.

National Farmers Union has been working since 1902 to protect and enhance the economic well-being and quality of life for family farmers, ranchers and rural communities through advocating grassroots-driven policy positions adopted by its membership.