54 Agriculture Organizations Reach out to Trump Team on Rail Issues

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December 1, 2016

The letter below, signed by 54 agriculture associations was sent to President-Elect Trump's transition team. The letter relays the organizations' collective request that the Trump administration select fair, knowledgeable, and impartial Commissioners to lead the Surface Transportation Board (STB). 

November 30, 2016 

The Honorable Mike Pence
Office of President-Elect Donald Trump
1800 F Street N.W. Room G117 
Washington, D.C. 20270-0117 

Dear Vice President-Elect Pence: 

Congratulations on your and President-Elect Trump’s election victory.  A number of important decisions and appointments will be forthcoming.  As it pertains to transportation and on behalf of our members in the agriculture community, we write to express our interest in working with you to identify fair, knowledgeable, and impartial Commissioners to lead the Surface Transportation Board (STB).   

STB’s current Commissioners – Chairman Daniel Elliott III, Vice Chairman Deb Miller, and Commissioner Ann Begeman – have made great progress implementing the STB Reauthorization Act of 2015 (S. 808) to help the agency better reflect the modern day rail marketplace.  STB modernization, including but not limited to the STB Reauthorization Act of 2015, will help farmers, agribusinesses, and manufacturers be more competitive in the global marketplace.  Safe, efficient, and competitive rail service is good news for all Americans. 

The STB was created over 20 years ago.  Since that time, much has changed in the freight rail industry.  Recognizing “the financially sound railroad industry of today” and not “…the foundering one that required rescue 35 years ago,”1 Congress unanimously passed the STB Reauthorization Act of 2015 almost 12 months ago.  Since it was signed into law, much has been done to modernize the agency, increase transparency and accountability to its stakeholders, and better balance the needs of railroads and their shipper/receiver customers.  But there is much more to do.  Many of the regulations and policies put in place decades ago by the STB and its predecessor, the Interstate Commerce Commission, no longer are relevant in today’s rail marketplace and need to be updated or eliminated. 

President-Elect Trump will have an opportunity to appoint at least two Republican Commissioners to the STB.  The STB is a critical oversight Board for shippers in the agriculture sector, many of which are dependent upon a single railroad for service.  We urge that the nominees and Chairman of the Board possess the expertise, integrity, impartiality and sound judgment necessary for these important roles.  STB Commissioners also should be committed to ongoing efforts to modernize the agency so it can better serve railroads and shippers. 

We look forward to working with you toward a successful transition to a new Administration and in support of the agriculture community and our great nation. 

Sincerely, 

The Fertilizer Institute 
American Farm Bureau Federation 
National Grain and Feed Association 
Agriculture & Commodities Transportation Coalition 
Agricultural Retailers Association 
American Soybean Association 
Corn Refiners Association 
Institute of Shortening and Edible Oils
National Association of Wheat Growers 
National Barley Growers Association 
National Corn Growers Association 
National Council of Farmer Cooperatives 
National Farmers Union 
National Onion Association 
North American Millers' Association 
Soy Transportation Coalition 
USA Rice
Agribusiness Association of Iowa 
Agribusiness Council of Indiana 
Alabama Agribusiness Council 
Alabama Crop Management Association 
Alabama Feed & Grain Association 
California Grain and Feed Association 
Far West Agribusiness Association 
Florida Fertilizer & Agrichemical Association 
Georgia Agribusiness Council 
Grain and Feed Association of Illinois 
Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association 
Kansas Grain and Feed Association 
Michigan Agri-Business Association 
Michigan Bean Shippers 
Minnesota AgriGrowth Council 
Minnesota Grain and Feed Association 
Missouri Agribusiness Association 
Nebraska Agri-Business Association 
Nebraska Grain and Feed Association 
North Dakota Grain Dealers Association 
Northeast Agribusiness and Feed Alliance 
Ohio AgriBusiness Association 
Oklahoma Agribusiness Retailers Association 
Oklahoma Grain and Feed Association 
Oregonians for Food & Shelter 
PennAg Industries Association 
Rocky Mountain Agribusiness Association 
SE Minnesota Grain & Feed Dealers 
South Carolina Fertilizer & AgriChemical Association 
South Dakota Agri-Business Association 
South Dakota Grain & Feed Association 
Texas Ag Industries Association 
Texas Grain and Feed Association 
Virginia Agribusiness Council 
Western Plant Health Association 
Wisconsin Agri-Business Association 
Wyoming Ag-Business Association
 

 
Cc: Mr. Nick Ayers, Senior Advisor to the Vice President-Elect, President-Elect's Transition Team 
Mr. Rick Dearborn, Executive Director, President-Elect's Transition Team 
Mr. Joel Leftwich, President-Elect's Transition Team 
The Honorable Shirley Ybarra, President-Elect's Transition Team