U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin
Press Release

U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin Introduces Bill to Help Businesses Move Made in Wisconsin Goods to Market

Rail Shipper Fairness Act Supported by Broad Coalition of Wisconsin Farmers, Manufacturers and Utilities

By - Mar 24th, 2015 02:56 pm

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin today introduced legislation to address challenges faced by Wisconsin businesses when shipping by rail. The Rail Shipper Fairness Act aims to reduce costs and improve service problems faced by a broad coalition of Wisconsin rail shippers, including farmers, manufacturers and utilities.

“Our Wisconsin businesses need a quality and responsive railroad system to effectively get their goods to market,” said Senator Baldwin. “In order to continue building a strong Made in Wisconsin economy that is fair to farmers, manufacturers, and consumers, we need to give these shippers a seat at the table. This legislation will address the challenges faced by local businesses and help drive our Wisconsin economy forward.”

“Senator Baldwin’s Rail Shipper Fairness Act would make much needed reforms to the freight rail industry,” said Casey Kelleher, President of the Wisconsin Corn Growers Association. “These reforms will help Wisconsin’s Corn Growers better get their goods to market. We thank her for her leadership on this issue.”

“We commend Senator Baldwin for standing up for Wisconsin businesses and consumers.  Efficient and reliable freight rail service at a reasonable price is vital to the economic well- being of our State,” said Matt Bromley, Coordinator for Badger CURE (Wisconsin Consumers United for Rail Equity). “Senator Baldwin’s Rail Shipper Fairness Act provides more balance to our nation’s freight rail transportation policy that has for far too long been tilted against rail customers.”

Businesses and consumers throughout Wisconsin have endured years of subpar rail service. Grain elevators across the Midwest are full due to farmers being left without means to move their goods to market. Wisconsin’s paper industry routinely faces high rates and poor service on the railroads. Several Wisconsin power plants have had to reduce production or shutdown altogether because they can’t get fuel by rail. These shutdowns pass higher rates on to their consumers with electricity costs set to reach their highest levels since 1999. These additional costs add up to make Made in Wisconsin products less competitive internationally.

The Rail Shipper Fairness Act increases rail shipping competition, reforms rate case regulations and restructures the Surface Transportation Board (STB). The legislation will require railroads to be more responsive to their customers by honoring their contractual obligations. The bill includes provisions to implement competitive switching, which Senator Baldwin previously called for in a bipartisan letter to the STB. Additionally, the bill requires the Board membership to increase from three to five members, two of whom must have experience as a consumer or rail shipper advocate.

The Rail Shipper Fairness Act is supported by Badger CURE (Wisconsin Consumers United for Rail Equity) a coalition that includes: Alliant Energy, Checker Logistics, Inc., Chippewa Valley, Bean Co., Citizens Utility Board, Cooperative Network, Customers First! Coalition, Dairyland Power Cooperative, Domtar Industries, ERCO Worldwide (USA) Inc., Georgia Pacific, Great Lakes Timber Professionals Assoc., Green Bay Area Chamber of Commerce, Green Bay Packaging, IBEW Local 2150, Lake States Lumber Assoc., Leicht Transfer & Storage, Louisiana-Pacific, Madison Gas & Electric, Manitowoc Grey Iron Foundry, Manitowoc Public Utilities, Menasha Utilities, Midwest Food Processors Assoc., Municipal Electric Utilities of Wisconsin, Neenah Foundry, NewPage, Ort Lumber, Packaging Corporation of America, Procter & Gamble, Sadoff Iron & Metal Company, Tomahawk Regional Chamber of Commerce, Wausau Paper, We Energies, Wisconsin Cast Metals Association, Wisconsin Corn Growers Association, Wisconsin Crop Production Association, Wisconsin Electric Cooperative Association, Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation, Wisconsin Farmers Union, Wisconsin Industrial Energy Group, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, Wisconsin Paper Council, Wisconsin Public Service Corp, Wisconsin Utilities Association and WPPI Energy. The Rail Shipper Fairness Act is also supported by the Wisconsin Soybean Growers.

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