The South Dakota Corn Growers Association applauds today’s passage of the Surface Transportation Board Reauthorization Act of 2015 in the U.S. House of Representatives. S. 808 aims to strengthen the Surface Transportation Board by enhancing its ability to efficiently address rail system issues as they arise.
South Dakota’s senior U.S. Sen. John Thune and fellow U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida, who respectively serve as the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, introduced the bipartisan rail reform legislation in March where it passed unanimously through committee and eventually the U.S. Senate in June. The legislation now awaits President Obama’s signature.
S.808 reauthorizes the STB for the first time since it was created roughly 20 years ago and would make the board a more effective agency for handling freight rail issues. This legislation will streamline rate case procedures, create a meaningful alternative dispute resolution process and expand the board from three to five members. Other improvements include allowing the board members to discuss agency matters with each other, permitting the board to launch its own investigations and creating much-needed timelines for completing cases.
The need for legislation become apparent after ethanol plants, co-ops and other shippers in the Upper Midwest experienced a lack of rail car availability, hiking prices and disruptions in recent years due to increased oil train traffic and record crop yields.
“The South Dakota Corn Growers would like to thank Senator Thune for his leadership in getting this bi-partisan legislation through the gridlock in Washington” said SDCGA president Keith Alverson, a farmer from Chester. “An efficient rail system is ultimately vital to South Dakota agriculture as it’s our only gateway to the global marketplace. This legislation will provide the STB with the authority and oversight it needs to prevent rail disruptions like those that plagued shippers, farmers and consumers in recent years.”
The South Dakota Corn Growers Association, one of the largest commodity groups in the state, promotes corn, represents corn producers on public policy issues and serves as a legislative voice.