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The Surface Transportation Board (STB) recently met with several shipper associations, including the American Forest and Paper Association (AF&PA) and the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, to discuss lifting the outdated exempt status of several commodities, such as crushed or broken stone, hydraulic cement, iron or steel scrap, and forest/paper products. These shipper associations contest that conditions have changed significantly in the years since railroad industry deregulation in the 1980s. In a recent FreightWaves article, Julie Landry of the AF&PA noted that the many Class I railroads of that era have, today, consolidated into six financially solid entities, leaving a majority of forest and paper product shippers captive. Without the oversight of the STB, shippers of exempt commodities say they have been left with no recourse when faced with lack of service and unreasonable rates. With three voting members now in place on the STB, Ex Parte 704–Review of Commodity, Boxcar and TOFC/COFC Exemptions is at last set to gain steam. If these issues are important to your company, now is the time to get involved with your industry associations and put the strength of numbers to work!

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