NGFA urges rejection of ag transportation contract petition

Rule would exempt rail carriers from requirement to file agricultural transportation contract summaries

The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) has urged the Surface Transportation Board (STB) to reject a petition from rail carriers urging that they be exempted from the statutory requirement to file agricultural transportation contract summaries.

In a petition to the STB filed May 12 by Norfolk Southern Railway Company (NS) and CSX Transportation Inc. (CSXT), the two carriers asked the agency to initiate a rulemaking to eliminate the current requirement to submit a summary of each contract for the transportation of “agricultural products … and products (derived) therefrom.”

In response, the NGFA submitted a statement urging the STB to deny the petition, asserting that having access to such agricultural transportation contract summaries enhances transparency and constitutes a meaningful protection to shippers against the abuse of market power by railroads. Further, the NGFA said, the importance of having access to rail agricultural transportation contract summaries has been magnified by the severe and widespread rail service disruptions dating to late last summer, which have raised questions as to rail carriers’ ability to meet their contract and common-carrier obligations to agricultural shippers.