*The Business Leaders "Virtual Roundtable" discussion was gathered for the Spring 2013 CornsTalk publication. The responses of these business associates were consolidated for the publication, but you can find the full responses through this blog series.
Paul Hammes, Vice President, General Manager Agricultural Products, Union Pacific
Union Pacific’s relationship with Nebraska agriculture industry
Union Pacific has developed a strong relationship with Nebraska agriculture industry during our 150 year history. As rail was laid across Nebraska in the 1860’s, communities were built and access to markets for the productive crop land was created. Nebraska has become a key part of Union Pacific’s agricultural franchise by generating more than 70,000 car loads of grain in 2012 from 39 shuttle train elevators. Nebraska’s grain production has also created a strong grain processing industry which includes 11 ethanol plants and three soybean crushing plants served by Union Pacific. Union Pacific has helped create and add value to Nebraska agriculture by providing market access with safe and efficient service across our 32,000 mile network. We not only access major feeding markets in the west, but also export markets in the U.S. Gulf, PNW and Mexico.
How should Nebraska leverage its strength in agriculture?
Nebraska has significant in-state markets for grain and grain products, however the long term demand growth will be aligned with exports. Nebraska needs to continue to invest in infrastructure and crop production practices in order to capture and access these markets. Union Pacific is committed to provide rail transportation support, with our January of 2012 announcement of plans to spend $1 billion in new investment in Nebraska over the next several years.
What do Nebraska urban consumers need to understand about Union Pacific’s relationship with agriculture?
Consumers all across the U.S. benefit from a large, safe, diverse and relatively inexpensive food supply because we have great agricultural resources and the ability to supply large population centers. Transportation is a key part of the food supply chain and rail is the safest and most fuel efficient mode of transportation. It all starts on the farm, but Union Pacific is a part of delivering it to the table.