North Dakota farmers have a big Big Oil problem. And by big Big Oil problem, I mean oil being transported by rail taking precedence over all those wheat, corn, and soybean passengers. Grain crops could now have a long wait at the train station. Cheerios boxes may become collector's items. Oh, but I kid, but General Mills will not be happy.
Yes, it seems we've got a rail-car traffic jam that's going to take a big bite out of many a agro-pocketbook. And we have the oil industry to thank for, erm, derailing (bygones) grain farmers.
FARGO, N.D. — The furious pace of energy exploration in North Dakota is creating a crisis for farmers whose grain shipments have been held up by a vast new movement of oil by rail, leading to millions of dollars in agricultural losses and slower production for breakfast cereal giants like General Mills.
The backlog is only going to get worse, farmers said, as they prepared this week for what is expected to be a record crop of wheat and soybeans.
“If we can’t get this stuff out soon, a lot of it is simply going to go on the ground and rot,” said Bill Hejl, who grows soybeans, wheat and sugar beets in the town of Casselton, about 20 miles west of here.
Oil and gas have replaced agriculture as the biggest contributors to North Dakota's gro$$ domestic product. One grower said he's not even sure he can survive if this goes on much longer, because huge companies like General Mills that make bread and cereal are canceling orders.They just can't wait for grain shipments.
For farmers, the delays often mean canceled orders from food giants that cannot wait weeks or months for the grain they need to make cereal, bread and an array of other products. [...] Farmers and agriculture groups say rail operators are clearly favoring the more lucrative transport of oil.
One farmer put it this way: “Oil seems to be pushing us off the trains.”