Thursday, November 5, 2009

Montana Farmers Fear a Buffett ‘Dictatorship’ (BRK.A)

They laughed when I said "Traffic will skyrocket if only we had more Montana posts".
Who's laughing now? BwaaaHaHa.
From the WSJ's Deal Journal:

Few states have more at stake in Warren Buffett’s acquisition of Burlington Northern Santa Fe than Montana. The company owns 90% of the state’s tracks, which are the primarily means for Montana farmers and coal miners to ship their goods across the country.

To get a sense of how the deal is being received in the Big Sky state, Deal Journal reached out to Alan Merrill, president Montana Farmers Union, who can watch Burlington Northern’s grain cars rumble along outside his Great Falls, Mont., office six or seven times a day.

For years, Merrill says, the state’s 11,000 farmers have complained about the monopoly that Burlington Northern holds over rail shipping in Montana. He hopes Buffett, who lives in the middle of corn-growing country in Omaha, Neb., will be sympathetic to farmers’ concerns about what they consider to be high rates on their barley and wheat shipments.

Deal Journal: How have farmers reacted to the deal?

Merrill: The farmers want to know if there will be an easying up on shipping rates. They want to know that Burlington Northern is not going to be a dictatorship. We have been a captive shipper for as long as I can remember. They are waiting to see what Mr. Buffett will do.

DJ: Realistically, what can Buffett do? The farmers will still be captive shippers.

Merrill: We’d like it if Mr. Buffett would come here and visit our farms and see what we are doing and then he would understand our issues with shipping rates. Instead of just saying this is what we are going to charge; take it or leave it.

DJ: Has there been any legislation proposed in Congress to break up the rail road monopoly?...MORE

Also at Deal Journal:

Protecting the Public from a Pretzel Monopoly