On the right track

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27 January 2022
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Better rail service means more transport options for Maine’s potato farms

RAILROAD improvements, combined with industry determination, have dramatically changed potato transport for Maine in the US, according to Aroostook County supplier Jay LaJoie.

In recent years, using rail from Aroostook County to ship crops to market was too costly, and there was a shortage of refrigerated cars. But railroads across the country have been investing in staffing and equipment and improving tracks.

While a shortage of truckers continues across the whole country, Jay said the future of shipping potatoes by train looks promising. Each car will accommodate 80 tons of potatoes, which is equivalent to four legal truckloads.

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Since December, his company has shipped more than 3,000 tons of potatoes for chips, fries and other food products from all over the county. A number of area farms, from Houlton to Ashland and into the St. John Valley, have also been hauling surplus processing potatoes to Van Buren, where they are loaded and sent down the tracks.

“Futuristically, I’d like to see more shipped out via rail — not only potatoes, but wood products and others,” Jay said in an interview with The Bangor Daily News. “I would describe the rail market right now as a growing business.”

Source: Bangor Daily News
Photo: Maine Department of Transportation

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