Railroad merger to create first U.S.-Canada-Mexico network

In March, the Canadian Pacific Railway announced it had agreed to purchase the Kansas City Southern railroad in a deal valued at $29 billion, creating the first rail network to connect Canada, the United States and Mexico.

Before finalization, the agreement must receive blessing from the Surface Transpor­tation Board, the federal agency charged with regulating freight rail. If approved, this would be the first merger between two Class 1 railroads in more than 20 years.

“There’s a lot of speculation about the impact on grain markets, but no one really knows,” said Eric Williams, director of grain operations for MFA Incorporated. “And the merger has a long way to go to pass through all the governmental regulations.”

CP’s cross-Canada network stretches into the U.S. as far south as Kansas City, Mo., and the KCS line extends south from there into Mexico. Officials say the combined rail company—to be named Canadian Pacific Kansas City—would allow grain companies and other shippers greater efficiency and supply chain integration as trade ramps up due to the new USMCA (United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement).

With expected revenues of about $8.7 billion, the merged rail network will be much larger and more competitive, operating approximately 20,000 miles of rail, em­ploying close to 20,000 people and generating total revenues of approximately $8.7 billion. Still, it will remain the smallest of six Class 1 railroads by revenue.

MFA only has one grain location on the CP line, in Laredo, Mo., but several on the KCS railway, including Glasgow, Higginsville, Vandalia and Laddonia. The shut­tle-loader in Marshall, operated by Central Missouri AGRIService, an MFA joint venture, is also positioned on the KCS.

Williams doesn’t expect the merger to greatly impact MFA’s grain operations, but he said there are still many unknowns that could bring opportunities and challenges. One of those uncertainties is the April 20 announcement that Canadian National Rail­way offered an unsolicited higher offer for the KCS, spurring a possible bidding war.

“The synergies are definitely there with a true USMCA railroad,” Williams said. “For us, it’s not going to add a lot of benefit except maybe an increased car supply, but it could mean more competition. At this point, there are more questions than answers.”

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Turkey numbers tumble

wildturkeyStarting this spring, researchers are taking a closer look at why wild turkey numbers are decreasing in Missouri. They believe poor production is mainly to blame, with turkey hens raising fewer poults each year.When spring turkey season opens in Missouri on April 19, hunters may find the gobblers to be more elusive than ever.

The state’s wild turkey population is in decline, dropping more than 60% since 2004, and production of young turkeys is at near-record lows. The Missouri Department of Conservation’s statewide poult-to-hen ratio in 2020 was 1.0, which means each female is only producing one baby turkey per year on average.

This poor production—not poor survival or overharvest by hunters—appears to be the greatest contributor to the decrease in turkey population, according to MDC. Multi­ple factors influence turkey production, including weather, habitat, predators and food.

Researchers at the University of Missouri and MDC are launching new studies to pinpoint possible reasons for the decline. This spring, two MU researchers will start tracking wild turkey movements by attaching GPS backpacks to 45 hens and their poults in Putnam County, Mo. The backpacks, which are fitted with radio transmitters and accelerometers that sense motion and velocity, will help them gather behavioral information. Trail cameras also will take images of poult predators in the landscape.

With the help of technicians and two doctoral students, the team plans to tag 150 tur­key hens with GPS transmitters over the next four years. The project is funded through a $1.3 million MDC grant with support from the National Wild Turkey Federation.

Even with the downward trend, Missouri still boasts one of the largest wild turkey populations in the nation, with somewhere between 350,000 and 400,000 statewide. About 10% of that population is harvested through hunting each year.

For more information, visit huntfish.mdc.mo.gov/hunting-trapping/species/turkey.

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Schad is new CEO of Missouri Corn

Schad 6772 V2Bradley SchadFor the first time in nearly 35 years, a new chief executive officer is at the helm of the Missouri Corn Growers Association (MCGA) and Missouri Corn Merchandising Council (MCMC).

Bradley Schad of Versailles, Mo., assumed his role as the organizations' CEO and executive director on March 15. He succeeds Gary Marshall, who retired after leading the state’s corn industry since the mid-1980s. Schad had been serving as senior director of market development and grower engagement for Missouri Corn. In his new position, Schad will be responsible for managing the day-to-day and long-range approach of MCMC and MCGA, working in cooperation with the board, staff and industry stakeholders.

“This was not an easy decision, nor one that was made lightly,” said MCGA Presi­dent Jay Fischer of Jefferson City. “After an extensive and thorough national search, it was unanimous Bradley has the heart and drive to continue Missouri Corn’s proud leg­acy. We firmly believe he has the deep industry experience and strong commitment to take our organization into the next chapter.”

Schad started with Missouri Corn in 2008, managing programs focused on ethanol and other market opportunities. He is a 2007 graduate of the University of Missouri, where he received a bachelor of science in agriculture systems management and minor in agricultural economics.

“It has been a great privilege to be part of such a phenomenal organization through­out my career,” Schad said. “I’m honored to continue the long tradition of success and look forward to working to move the industry forward.”

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