Trucking company bankruptcies has led to a shortage of shipping ability to move perishable/frozen products out of Washington.
Coupled with the bankruptcies, the rail industry, the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe Railroad, Washington’s dominant car supplier, has been able to handle 27 percent more this year but car shortages are cropping up.
The short supply of “refer” cars has hit at a peak time for the potato and onion harvests, according to the Washington State Potato Commission.
Lead-time to obtain empty cars is 10-14 days. BNSF does not see an easing of the situation until early September.
The Union Pacific Railroad, which touches southeastern Washington, is also experiencing shortages and delays in providing empty cars.
The WSPC is working to obtain a one-time federal appropriation to finance the Washington Produce Railcar Pool Program. This will create a pool of refer cars designed for use by Washington perishable commodities.