Rail shutdown would severely impact Michigan’s ag sector

Legislation to prevent a nationwide rail strike is being considered by the U.S. Senate.

Chuck Lippstreu with the Michigan Agri-Business Association says any disruption would have a severe impact on the state’s ag industry.  “And unfortunately, it would have a long-lasting impact on Michigan agricultural, even if it is a brief strike,” he says. “It will add to the severe volatility and logistical challenges that we’ve already faced over the last 18 to 24 months and create additional roadblocks to growth for the agricultural industry.”

He says grain, fertilizer, and ag product movement are heavily reliant on rail transportation. 

During a call with reporters this week, Lippstreau said it’s time for Congress to intervene to avoid a disruption.  “Michigan exports around $3 billion worth of agricultural products every year,” he says.  “Many of those products absolutely depend on the rail system to move either direct markets, for example dry beans to Mexico or to export terminals for onward shipment around the world.”

The U.S. House passed a bill on Wednesday with bipartisan support that would prevent a rail strike.  If approved and signed by the President it would implement a tentative agreement that was recommended by a presidential board, but was rejected by four of the twelve rail unions. 

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