Rail shipping costs and service concerns by farmers were the subject of hearings this week.
The hearings, Tuesday in Milwaukee and Thursday in La Crosse and Green Bay, drew representatives of the state's agriculture industry, including Jeff Lyon, Director of Governmental Relations with the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation. “We're concerned, because rail is one of the best ways that we have, to get product to market,” says Lyon, who suggests removing railroads? antitrust exemption. “Right now, you have about four railroads that control about 90% of the business” in Wisconsin, Lyon says.
But Kevin Soucie, a lobbyist for Canadian National Railway, suggests that could backfire. “Some of the solutions that are being proposed could actually result in less competition, and less rail service in Wisconsin,” he says. Soucie says the Canadian National is willing to work with its customers, to address their concerns. And, Soucie notes that rail industry representatives were initially not even invited to the hearings, which were organized by the state Ag Department and the Public Service Commission.