Railways could ease pressure on roads, saving costs, a checkoff-funded study says.

As millions of bushels of U.S. soybeans crisscross America’s roads, rails and waterways on their way to export markets, a soy-checkoff-funded study says more would ship more cheaply and efficiently by rail – and fewer by trucks – if the U.S. railway system were up to the task.

“The U.S. soy industry needs a transportation system that runs smoothly in order to move our soybeans to markets, and railways are a major part of that,” says Jared Hagert, a soybean farmer from Emerado, N.D., and coordinator of the United Soybean Board International Opportunities target area. “A big key to growing markets, both domestic and international, is being able to deliver our soybeans in an efficient manner.”

The study, titled “Maintaining a Track Record of Success,” examines the U.S. railway system and its ability to handle future growth in agricultural production and exports. This report suggests that if rail infrastructure investments are adequate to support growth, there will be a gradual shift from truck transportation to rail transportation each year, an action that could save fuel and money along the transportation chain. According to the study, rail uses about one-third of the fuel per ton-mile compared with trucks and can reduce road congestion and the need for highway repairs.

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