ND wants specifics on backlogged grain shipments

Published on NewsOK Modified: July 22, 2014 at 3:42 pm •  Published: July 22, 2014

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota's congressional delegation is pressing Canadian Pacific Railway to provide details of its backlog of grain shipments, saying farmers need detailed information with fall harvest fast approaching.

The U.S. Surface Transportation Board told Canadian Pacific and BNSF Railway in June to submit plans to address backlogs in northern Plains states and begin filing weekly updates.

But Sen John Hoeven, R-N.D., Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., and Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., said Canadian Pacific's weekly report does not include a specific number of past-due rail cars or average lateness, leaving farmers in the dark.

"Canadian Pacific has not indicated any meaningful reductions in their backlog since these reports began," Cramer said in a statement.

Grain bins across the state are full and harvests from prior years are being stored on the ground while awaiting rail cars.

Heitkamp, in a letter to the railroad's chief executive, Hunter Harrison, said detailed information on grain shipments "will provide Canadian Pacific the opportunity to restore weakened confidence among its customers in my state."

Canadian Pacific spokesman Ed Greenberg said Tuesday that the railroad will provide detailed information on past-due rail shipments to the North Dakota lawmakers "as quickly as possible."

"We take their concerns very seriously," Greenberg said.

North Dakota is Canadian Pacific's biggest customer for farm commodity shipments but the railroad also moves grain in Minnesota, South Dakota, Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, Wyoming and Missouri, Greenberg said. The railroad has been moving more than 2,000 grain cars weekly in the states since June, Greenberg said. He did not immediately know the number of delayed rail cars.

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