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Rail companies to report fertilizer delivery plans

PIERRE (AP) — A federal oversight board has told Canadian Pacific Railway and BNSF Railway that they have until Friday to report their plans to ensure delivery of fertilizer shipments for the spring planting of U.S. crops.

The Surface Transportation Board's decision comes in response to a hearing it held last week on recent service problems in the nation's rail network.

Increased crude oil and freight shipments largely have been blamed for causing the rail delays. Farmers and representatives of agriculture producers told the board that delays in fertilizer delivery could disrupt planting.

The board also ordered the railways to provide weekly status reports on fertilizer delivery for the next six weeks, beginning April 25.

U.S. Senator John Thune of South Dakota calls the decision "a step in the right direction."