Rail delays plague U.S. farmers, shippers
By High Plains/Midwest Ag Journal
Apr. 21, 2014 - Ordinarily, Jerry Cope would be loading between 100 and 125 rail cars with grain at this time of year, moving outbound from Dakota Mill and Grain in western South Dakota to flour mills and birdseed processors on the East Coast. But the elevator, where he serves as VP for Grain Origination and Merchandising, sits on the Canadian Pacific rail line where he's been "lucky" to see 25 cars that sometimes show up within two weeks of when promised.
Uncertainty is a common complaint, echoed by elevators, ethanol producers and farmers across the United States who are wondering if and when railroad companies will ever catch up from what most describe as a "perfect storm" of challenges this winter: extremely cold temperatures that limited capacity and slowed rail speeds, increased competition from domestic oil and coal shipments, and bottlenecks in key terminals like Chicago. But there's also the pocketbook pinch that is starting to hit home, due to lack of timely access to rail cars.