The High Cost of Rail Transportation

Checkoff-funded study uncovers evidence of railroad overcharging for shipping soybean products.

Published on: Nov 3, 2009
A soybean checkoff-funded study has found that 42% of the soybeans transported by rail resulted in rates the U.S. Surface Transportation Board would classify as potentially excessive, resulting in $120 million in potential overcharges in 2007.

The Soy Transportation Coalition, a partnership that includes the United Soybean Board and seven state soybean checkoff boards, published the "Railroad Movement of Soybeans and Soy Products" study. It analyzed the volume of soy transported by rail, the most common rail destinations for soy, and rates and revenue the railroad industry realizes from shipping soy.

Other findings of the study include:

* The revenue the largest Class I railroads generated from transporting soy nearly tripled in 10 years, jumping to more than $1.5 billion in 2008 from $549 million in 1998.

* Ports in Washington state and Oregon represent the largest destination area for U.S. soy, shipping 48% of the total U.S. crop. Most of the soy that is bound for Asia ships through the Pacific Northwest.


Log on to the "Library" section of the official soybean checkoff Web site at to view the full results of the study.