BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — BNSF Railway Co. has promised to add more trains to ensure timely delivery of fertilizer for spring planting, Sen. John Hoeven said Monday.
The North Dakota Republican said BNSF Executive Chairman Matt Rose told him over the weekend that the railroad "will dedicate additional resources and crews to get fertilizer to North Dakota producers faster."
Mark Watne, president of the North Dakota Farmers Union, said the state's current fertilizer supplies aren't adequate and some producers are struggling to find product.
"If they can't be supplemented, there is a potential for shortages across the state and that's a big deal," said Watne, whose group has about 40,000 members. "Some co-ops have quit pre-selling fertilizer because they can't guarantee delivery."
North Dakota farmers each year use about 800,000 tons of nitrogen-based fertilizer to help increase production of wheat, corn and other crops, said Dave Franzen, a soil science specialist at North Dakota State University. Almost all fertilizer that comes to North Dakota is imported, he said.
Without sufficient fertilizer supplies, "a lot of people are going to be in trouble," Franzen said.
Increased crude oil and freight shipments largely have been blamed for causing the rail delays. BNSF has said that rail service has been backlogged because of bad winter weather.