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Soy Transportation Coalition report: Rail still vital for soybean industry


The largest Class Is move 24 percent of the soybeans, 43 percent of the soybean meal, 67 percent of the soybean oil and 99 percent of the biodiesel produced in the United States, according to the Soy Transportation Coalition’s (STC) latest annual report on rail-transported soybeans and soy products.
The updated report provides national and state-by-state statistics on the volume of soybeans and soy products moved by rail, leading destinations for those products, and revenue and rates associated with the movements. The report also identifies the states where the soybean industry is most dependent on rail service, and the railroads that transport the highest volumes of soybeans and soy products.

Last year, BNSF Railway Co. transported the largest volume of soybeans at 10.7 million tons, and Union Pacific Railroad was the largest originator of soybean meal (6.2 million tons) and soybean oil (2.7 million tons), according to the report. The leading destination for rail-moved soybeans continues to be Pacific Northwest ports in Oregon and Washington — 49 percent of all soybeans loaded into a rail car are destined for the area, underscoring the Asian export market’s strength, STC officials said in a prepared statement.
In 2009, Class Is’ revenue generated from transporting soybeans and soy products totaled $1.48 billion, down from 2008’s $1.5 billion. However, from 2006 to 2009, the large roads’ revenue increased from $1.12 billion to $1.48 billion, the report states.

From 2007 to 2008 (the most recent data publicly available), rail rates on a per-ton basis increased 16.7 percent for soybeans, 10.6 percent for soybean meal and 6.6 percent for soybean oil, and decreased 4.9 percent for biodiesel, according to the report.

“Farmers acknowledge that railroads need to generate necessary revenues to maintain and enhance their infrastructure, yet if rail transportation becomes too costly, farmer profitability and agricultural exports will be diminished,” said STC Chairman Dean Campbell, a Coulterville, Ill., farmer, adding that the coalition seeks to promote a balanced relationship benefiting both farmers and railroads.     
Established in 2007, the STC comprises nine state soybean boards, the American Soybean Association and United Soybean Board.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 11/15/2010