June 30, 2006

Crapo, Rail Partners Note Farm-To-Market Gains

Ag products, rural economics, transportation part of July 5th event near Burley

Washington, DC â?? The process of getting Idahoâ??s farm products to market is getting more efficient and improving the health of Idahoâ??s rural economy as well, according to Idaho Senator Mike Crapo and leaders of Idahoâ??s shortline railroad and commodity interests. Crapo, a member of the Senate Finance Committee, has helped spur rural rail development by working to extend tax credits on transportation investments. Crapo is asking the U.S. Treasury Department to develop rules allowing for the proper implementation of the tax credits to ensure rail revitalization and investment continues in Idaho and across rural America.Leaders of the Eastern Idaho Regional Railroad (EIRR) and parent corporation Watco Companies, Inc. (Watco) will join with agricultural shippers, business, commodity group leaders and Crapo to tour rail track improvements being made on EIRRâ??s line three miles east of Burley July 5th. The demonstration will show impacts of improved freight rail service for Idaho as well as tax credits championed by Crapo that can improve rural rail service. A number of businesses shipping on the line including Coors, Amalgamated Sugar, and the Idaho Growers and Shippers Association will attend the tour.Watco began Idaho operations in 1987 and purchased the Eastern Idaho Regional Railroad line from Union Pacific before expanding into the Magic Valley, Palouse, and Upper Snake regions of Idaho. Watco also operates railcar repair facilities in Rupert and Idaho Falls. â??Getting Idaho products to market has been tough to plan over the last few years because of the mergers of some of the larger railroads and speculation about truck service,â?? Crapo said. â??We are finally seeing regional railroads being able to step up and bring these lines back, after decades of deferred maintenance in some cases, creating jobs while they improve transportation options. These regional railroads run efficiently and pass their efficiencies on to their customers, which improves our rural economy and business. Without them, many of our shippers would not have a rail option to market and would therefore end up with higher transportation costs.â??Crapo is pushing for the Senate to extend tax rules, which allow for a 50% tax credit on reinvestment in rail facilities for regional railroads like EIRR and Watco. â??This tax credit helps the shortline railroads maintain the necessary infrastructure. This infrastructure can be as important as highways and bridgesâ??they are the lifeblood that keeps commerce moving in rural Idaho and our rural business and industries are responding by using this system,â?? he said.Crapo and area leaders will view a major renovation project being conducted by the Eastern Idaho Regional Railroad utilizing Section 45G tax credits allowed under the legislation Crapo supported. The track is located just off old U.S. Highway 30, three miles west of Burley. Senator Crapo, Eastern Idaho Regional Railroad and Watco Companies, Inc, local businesses and shippers tour rail transportation improvements and discuss economics:Wednesday, July 5th10:00â??11:00 a.m.3 miles west of BurleyOn rail tracks just off old U.S. Highway 30From the west, take 1-84 Exit 208 to Burley, South on Overland to Main Street, West on Main (U.S. Highway 30) three miles to McCainâ??s, see railcars along tracks.# # #