The Soy Transportation Coalition and the University of Minnesota have released the results of their most recent survey and found that about 70 percent of participating grain handling facilities reported that cycle times for railroads are faster than one year ago. The survey focused on North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota and Nebraska.
Approximately 48 percent said that no rail orders were past due, and no respondents said that there was “much more” storage pressure at their facilities. These statistics are in contrast to an August news release that showed grain bins are filling up across the country and storage options are becoming limited.
“In reviewing the survey responses from the participating grain receiving locations, it becomes quickly evident that rail service for the 2014 harvest has thus far been a pleasant surprise,” said Mike Steenhoek, executive director of the Soy Transportation Coalition. “There are certainly opportunities for improvement moving forward, but railroads serving this particular area of the country should be commended for their performance up to this point.”
Because the 2014 harvest occurred over an elongated period of time, railroads were able to better adjust to volumes produced by farmers. Additionally, railroads have responded more efficiently to the raise in demand.
“The railroads, without question, have responded to the increased demand and the recent service challenges in the area of the country with an aggressive degree of new investment in locomotive power, track and personnel,” Steenhoek continued.
Favorable weather, modest harvest volumes and more grain storage also contributed to the positive survey results.
“The Soy Transportation Coalition will continue to monitor rail performance over the next few months,” Steenhoek stated. “We have been overall pleased with the service up to this point in the area of the country. We are hopeful this will continue. Farmer profitability depends on it.”