The USDA has been directed by Congress under the 2008 farm bill to perform a rural transportation study. The Transportation Services Division of USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service has asked the Agriculture Transportation Working Group (ATWG) to assist in collecting information for the study. ARA, a member of ATWG, has been tasked with providing the following information to the Transportation Services Division and is seeking member input.
- The reliability of transportation services-measure changes in rail and truck service reliability and performance over time.
- Historical truck rates paid to move agricultural products-USDA would like to attain a more robust historical record of truck rates for agricultural products.
- The effects transportation service disruptions have upon agricultural shippers-specific information and data from shippers regarding the effects of transportation service disruptions.
- Effects that closure of rural intermodal facilities, lack of adequate rail service to such facilities, or lack of container availability have upon ag shippers.
- Historical demurrage fees, rail car storage fees, lease payments for railroad property.
- Specific instances and details regarding instances in which access to particular markets was eliminated by increased and disproportionate rail rates to those markets or the closure of interchange to those markets.
- General information regarding the importance of rail, truck and barge transportation to the ag retail and distribution industry.
- Specific information and details regarding the impact of higher fuel costs on the transportation of goods.
USDA would like information on this topic by Jan. 1, 2009. This study will be completed and reported to Congress, and will be used as they continue to work on improving rural transportation for agriculture around the nation.
This study was included in the 2008 farm bill and directed USDA to complete the study in hopes of gaining useful information from the agriculture stakeholders around the U.S. With the current issues surrounding both rail and truck transportation, it is crucial that Congress and the Obama Administration are aware of the problems that persist in hope that they will be addressed next year.
Please take a few minutes to respond to some or all areas of concern. It is important that USDA reached out to ATWG and that ARA supply them with enough valuable information to better our rural transportation system.
If you have questions regarding the transportation study please contact ARA at (202) 457-0825 or e-mail Jon@aradc.org.