The American Farm Bureau Federation and more than 200 other agriculture-related organizations that are a part of the Agricultural Transportation Working Group sent a letter to Capitol Hill today urging lawmakers to quickly approve legislation to avert a rail strike.
The letter was sent just ahead of House passage of a resolution (H.J.Res. 100) to implement the tentative agreement brokered in September by the Biden administration with the rail labor unions and the railroads.
Under the Railway Labor Act, Congress can impose a resolution from Biden’s Presidential Emergency Board or order the trains to operate as usual with an extension of negotiations. While eight of the 12 rail unions have approved the contract, four of them – representing 55% of rail workers – rejected it.
The resolution must be approved by the Senate before being signed by President Biden, who is also asking Congress to act.
“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 have harmful consequences for the agricultural and broader U.S. economies,” the groups wrote in the letter.
In a statement issued yesterday, AFBF President Zippy Duvall described how a strike would jeopardize food production.
“Farmers not only rely on trains to transport food and feed, they also rely on rails to bring important supplies like fertilizer to the farm. A shutdown or slowdown would have devastating consequences to our national and global food security,” Duvall explained.
Both the coalition in its letter and Duvall in his statement asked Congress to act well before Dec. 9, when the strike would occur. Without a deal in place, rail services would start winding down the week before that deadline.
Concerned about the looming strike threat, farmers and ranchers from across the country have sent thousands of messages to Congress, asking lawmakers to be prepared to take action if the rail contract was not approved. See AFBF’s Action Alert to send a message to your lawmakers.
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