Fertilizer company complains about railroad shipping limits

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A major fertilizer company says Union Pacific limits on rail traffic to clear congestion will delay shipments farmers need during the spring planting season.

CF Industries said Thursday that the railroad had ordered it to cut shipments by nearly 20%. Union Pacific said it was limiting rail traffic and aggressively hiring as part of a plan to improve service after grain and ethanol shippers complained of shortcomings.

Federal regulators have announced plans to hold a hearing later this month on service issues along the Union Pacific and other major U.S. railroads that have forced some flour mills and ethanol plants to cut production while waiting for trains and left farmers with nowhere to sell their crops because grain elevators struggle to ship grain.

“The timing of this Union Pacific action couldn’t come at a worse time for farmers,” said CF Industries CEO Tony Will. “Not only will fertilizer be delayed by these shipping restrictions, but additional fertilizer needed to supplement spring applications may not reach farmers at all.

CF Industries said the limits will affect fertilizer shipments to Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, Texas and California from its Louisiana and Iowa plants. The company said it believed it was one of 30 companies that Union Pacific had imposed restrictions on.

Union Pacific spokeswoman Kristen South said the actions taken by the Omaha, Nebraska-based railroad are designed to address supply chain issues that have clogged rail shipments. The railroad also pulled 100 locomotives from storage and moved about 80 crew members to high-demand locations.

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