The United States Surface Transportation Board (STB) denied Foster Farms’ request for a continuation of an emergency service order for Union Pacific Railroad Company (UP) to follow concerning the delivery of corn to Foster Farms’ feed mills in the California communities of Turlock and Traver.
The order was issued on June 17 after requested by Foster Farms, which at the time had insufficient amounts of corn for feed production. The company stated that this lack of corn was putting the lives of poultry and other animals fed by Foster Farms feed in jeopardy.
Provisions of that order directed Union Pacific to:
- Prioritize the assignment of crews to Foster Farms unit trains at loading origins
- Relax the Hours of Service rules to enable the train to complete its movement from origin to destination without stopping
- Assign and retain sufficient locomotives to Foster Farms’ trains at loading origins so when grain is loaded, the trains can immediately begin moving toward the Foster Farms feed mill destinations
- Provide the STB with daily status reports regarding the delivery of Foster Farms trains
That emergency order was set to expire on July 20, and Foster Farms requested a continuation of that order. While the company acknowledged that its corn stocks had been replenished, it added it is still at risk of a reduction in service order over the next few months, “primarily due to uncertainty over whether UP has sufficient crews and other employees to maintain its current service levels to Foster Farms without continued board oversight.”
However, UP responded, stating that it has addressed the emergency, and that it is delivering more grain that Foster Farms can handle at the two facilities. It cited that it had to divert three loaded shuttles to other locations because the Traver and Turlock facilities were full, and that on another occasion, another loaded shuttle was parked at Turlock for nine days because there wasn’t enough capacity there to unload it.
While the request for an emergency service order continuation was denied, the STB did see merit to Foster Farms’ concerns and decided to keep the docket related to the order open for an additional six months, and if no further action from the STB is needed within those six months, the docket will automatically close in January 2023.