ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA, US — As negotiations continue between US railroads and rail unions, the National Grain and Feed Association has asked Congress to intervene, if necessary, to prevent any disruptions to service.

The NGFA said in a Sept. 8 letter to US lawmakers that uninterrupted rail service is vital to the American agricultural economy.

“A complete stoppage of the rail system would lead to shutdowns or slowdowns of rail-dependent facilities resulting in devastating consequences to our national and global food security,” the groups noted.

Railroads and rail labor have until Sept. 16 to reach an agreement that would prevent a lockout or strike after the Presidential Emergency Board published a proposed settlement on Aug. 17. If an agreement is not reached, Congress should act “to avoid significant economic damage to US supply chains and further uncertainty for rail customers.”

A freight rail stoppage occurring during harvest would exacerbate global food insecurity, further increase inflation and escalate the already severe service delays rail customers have been facing, the letter stated.

The rail network is experiencing significant service disruptions, shippers noted in a previous letter to President Joe Biden on July 1, and an additional disruption of rail service related to a labor dispute would “push an already stressed rail network to the brink” and have immediate impacts on the nation’s supply chain.