February 25, 2021

A Rail Corridor Roars Back to Life

MaxYield Garner IAAbout a year ago, farmers in the north central part of the state gained some options for selling their grain.

The former Union Pacific Railroad line was abandoned for lack of meeting a 100-car capacity. Last November, the 28-mile stretch of track was back in operation—from Belmond to Garner to Forest City—with a ribbon-cutting ceremony by the governor and a grand celebration.

The purchase of the track for $1.5 million and an additional $500,000 for improvements by the North Central Iowa Railroad Corridor LLC, and a 10-year lease-to-own agreement with the Iowa Northern Railroad, creates access to more markets and agricultural products.

“I just know it’s a total plus for our community,” said Bob Malek, a farmer north of Garner. “Anything with rail is good for us, and it helps save wear on our roads.” Malek and area farmers rely on MaxYield Cooperative in Garner and the Iowa Northern Railroad to transport grain and provide fertilizer and other agricultural products.

Farmers appreciate competitive bids

The benefit to Garner-area farmers means competitive bids are on an equal basis with other areas with rail access, said Harry Bormann, grain team leader for MaxYield Cooperative, which is one of the investors in the project.

“It also means up to 1,500 fewer truckloads of grain on Highway 18,” added Bormann, who noted that rail is a more efficient method of transporting grain. “Each rail car holds three truckloads of grain.”

MaxYield Cooperative Garner IAAgriculture and manufacturing in Forest City also benefit from the North Central Iowa Rail Corridor with the transportation of grains, fertilizers, and products for Winnebago Industries and the 3M Distribution Center.

Randy Broesder, general manager of the Farmers Cooperative Association in Forest City, is one of the movers and shakers behind the revival of the track and the access to more agricultural markets for area farmers. Farmers Cooperative Association is also one of the investors in the project.

North Iowa Railroad train master Donny Rehlander is more than a little biased when it comes to the benefit of railroads. This fourth-generation railroad worker said he’s amazed to be working in some of the same buildings and lines as his ancestors before him. Rehlander, of Mason City, is also proud to be part of the process of transporting agricultural products to the nation. “The farmers are really excited to see their corn going to different markets.”

Another plus of the North Iowa Railroad is the option of a run with fewer cars, sometimes as few as five to 10 cars. It may not seem like a big deal, but to hundreds of Iowa farmers, it means the world.


This article and photos were reprinted with permission from the Iowa Farm Bureau Spokesman.



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