NGFA commends Senate committee for favorably reporting Hedlund for STB

ARLINGTON, Va., Aug. 4, 2021 — The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) commended the Senate Commerce Committee for favorably reporting the nomination of Karen Hedlund to serve on the Surface Transportation Board to the full Senate for consideration.

During the past few years, the Board has developed momentum in attempting to create more rail-on-rail competition and a more streamlined method for freight rail customers to challenge unreasonable rates, noted the NGFA and 50 other agricultural organizations in an Aug. 3 letter to committee leaders.  

“The ability of the STB to follow through and pursue a modern and more balanced approach is dependent upon it having members that are knowledgeable and objective,” the groups said, adding that Hedlund “exemplifies these principles.”

The agricultural sector, which accounts for more than $160 billion of America’s trade exports, “has been adversely impacted by railroad market power” and the rail industry’s implementation of precision scheduled railroading (PSR), the groups said. 

President Joe Biden nominated Hedlund earlier this year to replace Republican Ann Begeman, who is serving in her 11th year at the STB. Begeman’s service included four years as STB’s chairman, before President Biden replaced her as chair with Democrat Marty Oberman on Jan. 21, 2021. Senate confirmation of Hedlund to the STB will allow the Board to retain its full complement of five members, as set by the STB Reauthorization Act of 2015.

Hedlund, a native of Illinois and graduate of Harvard University and Georgetown University, has significant rail transportation experience having served as the Federal Railroad Administration’s deputy administrator and chief counsel and as the Federal Highway Administration’s chief counsel. Currently, she is vice president and National Rail Strategy Advisor at WSP USA where she works with federal, state and local transportation agencies as well as private companies to facilitate financing and development of transportation projects.

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The NGFA, established in 1896, consists of grain, feed, processing, exporting and other grain-related companies that operate more than 8,000 facilities handling U.S. grains and oilseeds. Its membership includes grain elevators; feed and feed ingredient manufacturers; biofuels companies; grain and oilseed processors and millers; exporters; livestock and poultry integrators; and associated firms that provide goods and services to the nation’s grain, feed and processing industry. The NGFA also consists of 34 affiliated State and Regional Grain and Feed Associations, and is co-located and has a strategic alliance with North American Export Grain Association, and a strategic alliance with Pet Food Institute.