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How a potential rail strike could impact farmers

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(NewsNation) — After one of the largest rail unions rejected a deal earlier this week, many observers fear that a rail strike may be on the horizon.

Such a strike would have wide-ranging ramifications for the nation’s economy, and one of the industries that would be impacted is agriculture.

John Boyd Jr., the founder of the National Black Farmers Association, joined “NewsNation Prime” to discuss the potential strike’s impact.

According to Boyd, “126 million tons of grain in this country is moved by rail. A potential strike by the railroads could be devastating on our food supply chain.”

Boyd added that inflation and the cost of farm equipment are already bearing down on farmers.

He emphasized, however, that he is sympathetic to railroad workers. “I hope that they can come to some sort of agreement,” he said.

But he noted that the implications of a shutdown could be severe.

“You have what’s called grain elevators or buying stations that buy grain from farmers. And once those facilities are full and they don’t have a way to move it, that’s what’s going to bring the American food supply to … a standstill,” he said.

Mike Baldwin, the president of the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen, also joined “NewsNation Prime” to discuss negotiations with rail worker unions.

“We’re still at the table with the railroads. We hope to try and come to a deal. That’s what we would want to do. We don’t want to strike, as unions. We would like to reach an agreement that our members would ratify that they would be happy with,” he said.

When asked about their priorities, Baldwin pointed to policies around sick leave. “There needs to be paid sick days. None of our members at the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen or any of the other members of the industry have paid sick time. And that’s an issue,” he said.

Professor Dan Roccato of the University of San Diego, who studies the economy, sketched out the implications of a possible strike during a “NewsNation Prime” appearance.

Roccato said, “40 percent of all freight in this country move by rail. And that’s a pretty big number when you think about it,” he said. “A lot of bulk goods — soy bean, corn, chemicals, all these things move majority by rail. Those ingredients go into making other products that you and I depend on, whether they be grocery products or other things. 75 percent of our new cars — rail.”

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