Trains, Barges & Agricultural Transport Economics - Conversation with Dr. Ken Casavant

Solutionary Rail Team and guest Dr. Kenneth Casavant, Director of the Freight Policy Transportation Institute at WSU discussed agricultural transport and the Solutionary Rail proposal as a solution for farmers' need to move grain and perishables. 

Dr. Casavant spoke about the potential of the Camas Prairie Railroad in Eastern Washington, and the impact of removing the dams on the Lower Snake River.  Ken is studying Grain Train and existing precendent, while conducting alliance building among rural commerce, farmers and the Inland Empire.

Breaching of the dams on the Lower Snake River is gaining support among Northwest elected officials. We learned it could actually be a win-win for farmers, fishers, conservationists, and railroad workers. For instance, Pacific Northwest salmon traveling inland to spawn, in large numbers, play a central role in the health of the land - trees, forests and soil. Healthy soil helps farmers grow better produce. 

In a blurb for the Solutionary Rail book, Ken wrote, "Agriculture was started and sustained by high quality transportation and now transportation, especially rail, is heavily sustained by the largest user of the US transportation network, agricultural traffic and attendant revenue streams. Public participation in all modes has historical precedent: rail land grants, highway funding and waterway development. But the issue now is the historical efficiency and sustainability of fossil fueled rail transport. The proposition of electrically powered railroads offers agriculture a more positive future, since electricity may be cost effective, is environmentally appealing and offers a future of high capacity and fast service, leading to environmental and economic sustainability. Agriculture critically needs railroads and railroads need agriculture." 

Here's a relevant YouTube video from 2010 when the locks on the Snake River were closed down temporarily:

About Ken Casavant:

Dr. Kenneth Casavant is a Professor in the School of Economic Sciences and a nationally renowned transportation economist, after spending 35 years at Washington State University. He has received numerous teaching, research and service awards throughout his tenure at Washington State University, including recipient of the "Lifetime Achievement Award" from the Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute 2006, the "Washington State University Sahlin Faculty Excellence Award" 2004 and being named “Distinguished Scholar” by the Western Agricultural Economics Association in 2003. 

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