The Monterey County Board of Supervisors on July 22 approved to match Salinas’ investment in a rail feasibility study that will be administered by the Grower-Shipper Association of Central California (GSA).

The county and city are each contributing $15,000 to this study which will evaluate the feasibility and industry interest in using rail carriers for the transport of agricultural products.

An unprecedented and extraordinary increase in the cost of diesel fuel over the past six months has presented severe financial challenges to the Central Coast agricultural industry. This study will determine whether returning some shipments to a rail delivery system is a more cost-effective method of providing much of the nation and surrounding countries with the Central Coast’s fresh produce.

“The Grower-Shipper Association’s Board of Directors feels that this is a critically important opportunity to evaluate transportation needs for the next several decades,” said Dennis Donohue, chairman of the GSA Board. “The fact that we’re looking to our past in rail makes this project all the more interesting.”

Jim Bogart, president and general counsel of the Grower-Shipper Association, says this study presents an excellent opportunity for the industry and its customers.

“This study is very timely as the cost of fuel and transportation has hit historical highs,” says Bogart. “Today we’re shipping our products all across the continent, and we must take this opportunity to explore various means by which we could transport our products in a timelier, more cost-efficient manner.”

The Grower-Shipper Association has supported industry innovation and research in all of its more than 75 years, from value-added products to logistical solutions.

“This research is simply one more way GSA is addressing the needs of the industry,” says Donohue. “We’re a cutting edge industry that’s looking to learn from our past with this study. It is quite possible that everything “old” is new again.”