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Need to avoid a national railroad strike

Legislative Watch: Strike could begin Nov. 19; $223 million to expand meat and poultry processing; vote on Tuesday.

P. Scott Shearer

November 4, 2022

3 Min Read
Getty Images railroad.jpg
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A coalition of over 300 national, state and local trade associations is urging President Joe Biden to engage with railroads and unions to avoid a national rail strike during the holiday season. 

The coalition in a letter to Biden said, "It is paramount that these contracts now be ratified, as a rail shutdown would have a significant impact on the U.S. economy and lead to further inflationary pressure."

Those signing the letter included the American Farm Bureau Federation, American Soybean Association, Corn Refiners Association, National Cattlemen's Beef Association, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, National Grain and Feed Association, National Pork Producers Council, North American Meat Association, The Fertilizer Institute and U.S. Meat Export Federation.

In addition, nearly 200 agricultural organizations, through the Agriculture Transportation Working Group, sent a letter  to Congressional leaders urging Congress to prepare to take action to prevent a rail strike or lockout which would be devastating to food security.  A strike could begin as early as Nov. 19. 

The letter stated, "A strike or lockout combined with existing challenges in the rail system, at our ports, with trucking and with record low water levels on the Mississippi River impacting numerous barge shipments would be catastrophic for the agricultural and broader U.S. economies. Congress must act to prevent this from occurring if the parties cannot reach agreement."

There are 12 rail unions that have to vote on the tentative contract agreement.  So far, six have voted to ratify the agreement, two rejected it, and four have yet to vote.

USDA announce $223 million in loans and grants to expand meat and poultry processing
USDA announced over $223 million in loans and grants to increase competition and economic opportunities for small and mid-sized meat and poultry processors in 19 states.

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said, "By jumpstarting independent processing projects and increasing processing capacity, these investments create more opportunities for farmers and ranchers to get a fair price, while strengthening supply chains, delivering more food produced closer to home for families, expanding economic opportunity, and creating jobs in rural America."

USDA is investing $73 million for 21 projects in 13 states through the Meat and Poultry Expansion Program. Proposals in Nebraska and Iowa received the most funding. There were over 300 applicants for the grants.

In addition, $75 million was awarded for eight projects through the Meat and Poultry Intermediary Lending Program and more than $75 million for four meat and poultry-related projects through the Food Supply Chain Guaranteed Loan Program. 

USDA expects the announcement will increase beef and pork processing by 500,000 head  per year and 34 million birds per year.  

A list of the projects can be found here.

Remember to vote on Tuesday
The mid-term election is next Tuesday, Nov. 8. There are a number of close Senate races that will determine which party controls the Senate. They include Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Washington and Wisconsin. 

Republicans are predicted to take back control of the House of Representatives. There are approximately 30 House races that are considered toss-ups, many of them involving members of the House Agriculture Committee. 

So be sure to vote on Tuesday!

Source: P. Scott Shearer, who is solely responsible for the information provided, and wholly owns the information. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset. The opinions of this writer are not necessarily those of Farm Progress/Informa.

About the Author(s)

P. Scott Shearer

Vice President, Bockorny Group, Inc.

Scott Shearer is vice president of the Bockorny Group Inc., a leading bipartisan government affairs consulting firm in Washington, D.C. With more than 30 years experience in government and corporate relations in state and national arenas, he is recognized as a leader in agricultural trade issues, having served as co-chairman of the Agricultural Coalition for U.S.-China Trade and co-chairman of the Agricultural Coalition for Trade Promotion Authority. Scott was instrumental in the passage of China Permanent Normal Trade Relations and TPA. He is past chairman of the USDA-USTR Agricultural Technical Advisory Committee for Trade in Animals and Animal Products and was a member of the USAID Food Security Advisory Committee. Prior to joining the Bockorny Group, Scott served as director of national relations for Farmland Industries Inc., as well as USDA’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Congressional Affairs (1993-96), serving as liaison for the Secretary of Agriculture and the USDA to Congress.

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