OMAHA, NEBRASKA, US — The US Surface Transportation Board has ordered Union Pacific to ensure it delivers grain to a livestock producer in California to prevent millions of chickens and hundreds of thousands of cattle from starving, the Associated Press reported.

This is the second time in the past year that regulators have issued an emergency order related to delivery problems at Foster Farms, which is based in Livingston, California, US.

Union Pacific said last month’s extreme cold and blizzard conditions slowed deliveries and additional problems are possible because of the forecast for more severe weather, the AP said.

Foster Farms asked the STB to make Union Pacific give priority to grain trains heading from the Midwest to its livestock production facilities in Traver, Turlock and Delhi, California.  

The railroad said the problems at Foster Farms should improve once five trains hauling corn that are en route arrive.

Foster Farms attorney Thomas Wilcox said in a letter to regulators that the company doubts the railroad will deliver on its promises because none of its grain trains have arrived on time in the past two weeks.

While it waits, Foster Farms has bought dozens of truckloads of more expensive corn to keep its chickens fed but those deliveries can’t continue to meet its needs, the AP reported.

Union Pacific and the other major freight railroads have hired hundreds of new workers recently, but railroad executives acknowledge that their service still isn't meeting customer expectations and must continue to improve.