Stabenow Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Spur Investment in Michigan Railroad Infrastructure

Legislation offers tax credit to repair short line railways used to move agricultural products

Thursday, February 16, 2017

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) joined Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID) in introducing the Building Rail Access for Customers and the Economy, or BRACE Act, which would make permanent a critical tax credit used to repair and upgrade short line railroads, commonly used to distribute agricultural products.

“I have met with farmers across the state about the problems with our rail system which they rely on to get their products to market,” said Stabenow.  “This legislation will help make sure that Michigan has the railroad infrastructure in place to continue to grow our agriculture economy, export more products and create new jobs.”

“Short line railroads remain in need of investment throughout Michigan, posing a significant challenge for our agriculture sector, so we welcome and support Senator Stabenow’s effort to bolster short line infrastructure,” said Bruce Sutherland, president of Michigan Agricultural Commodities. “As a peninsula, Michigan faces unique logistics challenges, and we depend on reliable short line transportation to move our grain to customers throughout the United States and ultimately around the world. Short line rail is critical for the economic vitality of Michigan agriculture and I appreciate Senator Stabenow for encouraging sorely-needed repairs and upgrades throughout the short line rail system.”

“The six Michigan subsidiary short lines of Genesee & Wyoming are extremely grateful to Senator Stabenow for her continued support for the short line tax credit,” said Jerry Vest, Senior Vice President of Genesee & Wyoming. “She understands how important Michigan short line freight railroads are for key sectors of the Michigan economy such as agriculture.  Her leadership on this issue demonstrates her continued efforts to improve the competitiveness of Michigan farmers and manufacturers.”

The short line railroad track maintenance credit provides short line and regional railroads a 50 percent tax credit for railroad track maintenance expenses, up to $3,500 per mile of track owned or leased by the railroad. The short line railroads ensure that small manufacturers’ products can get to markets in an efficient and cost-effective manner. 

Since 2006 Congress has acted periodically to extend the credit, often retroactively and often almost a year after expiration.  This uncertainty causes private investment to decline, limits investments in safety and customer service, and provides uncertainty to businesses, farmers, and employers that cannot be globally competitive without freight rail.

Crapo and Stabenow’s bill is also cosponsored by Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Bob Casey (D-PA), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Ron Wyden (D-OR).