A coalition of more than 30 agricultural organizations has sent a letter to lawmakers detailing the need to avert a railroad strike. Some progress has been over the weekend, with eight unions representing approximately 57,000 workers reaching tentative deals. However, the likelihood of a strike and rail stoppage is increasing as the country’s two largest rail unions have yet to reach an agreement.
“Leaders around the world are already concerned about food shortages and famine due to drought and geopolitical challenges, such as the invasion of Ukraine, which accounts for ten percent of the global exports of wheat,” the letter states. “A freight rail stoppage would occur as America’s farmers harvest their crops and would exacerbate global food insecurity and likely contribute to further geopolitical instability in regions that experience famine.”
Signatories of the letter include the American Farm Bureau Federation, The Fertilizer Institute (TFI), National Cotton Council, American Retailers Association, and USA Rice. The groups encourage Congress to intervene if an agreement cannot be met and a railroad strike is imminent. A shutdown of the rail system has the potential to cost $2 billion per day in lost economic output.
TFI also sent its own letter to members of Congress, highlighting the impact a railroad strike would have on fertilizer. Fertilizer markets have been facing significant challenges over the past two years, including issues with transportation. While a stoppage has not happened yet, TFI notes that they are already seeing negative impacts from the lack of a resolution.
“This situation will get exponentially worse every day there is no resolution. Over half of all fertilizer moves by rail year-round, and there are some fertilizer products that move almost exclusively by rail,” said TFI President and CEO Corey Rosenbusch. “If they can’t be shipped farmers won’t have them and if they can’t move production slows down. In the end the consumer will be footing the bill for this inaction at a time when household budgets are already strained.”