The American Farm Bureau Federation is the unified national voice of agriculture. It is an independent, non-governmental, voluntary organization with nearly 6 million member farm and ranch families, representing nearly every type of crop and livestock production across all 50 states and Puerto Rico.

The AFBF works to enhance and strengthen the lives of rural Americans and to build strong, prosperous agricultural communities. Having access to more affordable and dependable freight rail transportation is vital to the success of America’s farming and agriculture industry.

What sort of issues are AFBF members experiencing?

With farms dotted across the country, AFBF members rely on freight railroads to deliver the inputs needed to produce a crop and then eventually get their products to market.  Having access to efficient, competitive rail transportation is crucial to America’s farmers and ranchers and ultimately the success of our rural economy.

Antiquated policies and the lack of competition in the rail industry ends up negatively impacting rural areas and makes U.S. farmers and ranchers less competitive in global markets. Inefficient rail service increases costs for consumers and less profitable yields for farmers.

What’s at stake for the American farming industry?

Agriculture is at the very heart of our nation’s economy. Today, agriculture contributes approximately $1 trillion to our gross domestic product, more than 5 percent of our nation’s economy.

Many forms of transportation play a critical role in moving agricultural products from the fields to the dinner table, but our nation’s family farmers and ranchers are especially dependent on freight rail. In 2012, for example, American agriculture shipped 351 tons by rail.

Unfortunately, antiquated policies have allowed just four railroads to increase rail rates, impeding an industry that Americans rely on each day. From 2005 to 2013, the rail rate premium paid by farmers increased 127 percent.

What needs to be done?

AFBF encourages President Trump to fill the vacancies at the Surface Transportation Board as soon as possible with board members who are committed to common-sense reforms that will provide greater access to competitive and reliable freight rail options.

AFBF members look forward to continuing their work with other shippers, and trust that the U.S. Senate will promptly confirm President Trump’s qualified, pro-reform STB nominees.