Producer Groups Bring Up Rail Complaints

The National Corn Growers Association and others testified before the Surface Transportation Board to bring up problems with STB's proposed changes to the handling of rail complaints by shippers.

The National Corn Growers Association is opposing the Surface Transportation Board's proposed rules for handling rate complaints by shippers against railroads, saying it "will make an already untenable situation much worse."

In testimony before the STB, NCGA and other groups told the board that the proposed rules "would slam the door shut against most, if not all, small rate challenges," and that STB's proposal drastically underestimates the cost and time for the new procedures.

STB proposed new rules for handling shippers' rate complaints against railroads in July, and NCGA and other producer organizations filed complaints this fall saying that under the new rules, complaints would be too expensive to file due to legal fees.

The Government Accountability Office released preliminary observations of the STB in June 2006, reporting that although most of the rail freight industry enjoyed strong productivity and passed its lower costs on to shippers. However, the GAO found that grain rates differed from the industry trends; the amount of grain traffic with higher markups increased significantly from 1985 to 2004.

STB will hold more hearings on rail freight, and NCGA and other groups asking to present additional findings before the board on Jan. 31.

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