Union Pacific hit with STB emergency service order for California poultry, feed producer

Regulators order UP to live up to service commitments it made this week as feed supply runs low


By Bill Stephens, Trains

June 17, 2022


WASHINGTON – The Surface Transportation Board on Friday ordered Union Pacific to live up to service commitments it has made to deliver corn to a large California poultry and feed producer.


The emergency service order, issued in response to a plea this week from Foster Farms, directs UP to give preference and priority to unit trains bound for Foster’s facilities at Turlock and Traver, Calif.


Foster Farms told the board earlier this week that thousands of dairy cattle and millions of chickens and turkeys depend upon corn UP delivers from the Midwest. But since February UP’s service has been unreliable amid a shortage of train crews and related congestion on the railroad.


​​”The point has been reached when millions of chickens will be killed and other livestock will suffer because of UP’s service failures,” Foster Farms wrote in its request to the STB this week.


UP had advised the board on Thursday that two loaded trains are scheduled to arrive at Foster’s facilities, one on June 18 and one on June 21. Two empty trains are destined for loading in Iowa today and Sunday, although the railroad subsequently told the board that a derailment has delayed the progress of one of the trains.


“UP is ordered to perform on its specific commitments of service … destined for the Turlock and Traver facilities … to the greatest extent possible,” the STB said in its decision. “Should UP need to deviate from its proposed schedule for those trains, UP should advise the Board and Foster Farms in writing as soon as it is able. The Board’s directive is intended to alleviate Foster Farms’ immediate service problem while the Board considers the remainder of Foster Farms’ petition.”


Foster Farms asked the STB to direct UP to prioritize delivery of unit trains to its California facilities for at least the next 30 days. Foster Farms leases four unit trains from UP as part of the railroad’s grain shuttle program.


It wants the board to...