On Tuesday, USDA released to Congress a comprehensive report on agricultural transportation in the United States, the first ever of this magnitude. The report, “Study of Rural Transportation Issues,” was mandated by the 2008 farm bill and covers the four major modes of transportation commonly used by agriculture in the United States—truck, rail, barge and ocean vessel.
“Agriculture is the largest user of freight transportation in the United States, with 31 percent of all ton-miles recorded in 2007 being used in the movement of agricultural products,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “This report provides vital information needed to make strategic policy decisions to meet rural America’s transportation needs, now and in the future.”
The report examines some of the major issues facing agricultural transportation, including: the dramatic effect of deregulation on the rail industry, a growing gap for funding the inland waterways and highway systems, availability of containers and ocean vessel capacity, and the infrastructure that may be needed to support a projected increase in biofuel transportation.