Phil Davies - Senior Writer
Published January 1, 2010 | January 2010 issue
Balking at a proposed increase in rail freight rates, two Montana farm groups plan to take their grievances to mediation with the Burlington Northern Sante Fe railroad.
BNSF and the farm groups—the Montana Farm Bureau Federation and Montana Grain Growers Association—agreed earlier this year to mediate and arbitrate disputes over grain freight rates in the state. Such a dispute arose when a Shelby-area farmer objected to BNSF’s proposal to raise the rate on Shelby-to-Portland, Ore., grain shipments by about 3 cents per bushel.
Montana farmers have long expressed concern about lack of competition inflating rail shipping rates. BNSF, which is being acquired by billionaire investor Warren Buffett, controls more than 90 percent of the rail miles in the state.