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U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) earlier this week sent a letter to Canadian Pacific President and Chief Executive Officer E. Hunter Harrison requesting information about the steps the railroad plans to take to address farmers' service needs in the coming harvest. She also asked Harrison to release more information on CP's agriculture shipment delays in North Dakota.With the harvest approaching, the ability of the state's grain storage and delivery system to withstand additional rail service delays is a concern, Heitkamp said in a press release."North Dakota farmers are rightfully concerned that railroad delays will hamper their ability this harvest season to store their crops and get them to market," she said. "The time to act is now, which is why I want Canadian Pacific to provide our farmers with an update on the status of agriculture shipments and recommit to getting issues with poor service resolved before this year’s crop is loaded into bins."Although CP has released broad details about ag shipments, it has yet to provide specifics about the extent of delays in North Dakota, Heitkamp said, adding that she's pressing for more details to help fully understand the extent of the delays and to find out what the railroad is doing to get shipments back on time.The senator has repeatedly pressed regulators and the rail industry to fix inadequate ag service in North Dakota, she said. Heitkamp requested that North Dakota State University study the impact to determine the damage caused by rail service delays. According to study's initial findings, North Dakota farmers lost about $66 million in revenue from January to April. Last week Heitkamp met with Surface Transportation Board Chairman Daniel Elliott and urged him to look into North Dakota farmers' concerns that railroads might not be able to move last year’s crops in time for the coming crop year’s harvest due to extensive delays. The senator has also been in regular contact with BNSF Railway Co. President and CEO Carl Ice to share her concerns about rail service delays.
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