This is only a Preview!

You must Publish this diary to make this visible to the public,
or click 'Edit Diary' to make further changes first.

Posting a Diary Entry

Daily Kos welcomes blog articles from readers, known as diaries. The Intro section to a diary should be about three paragraphs long, and is required. The body section is optional, as is the poll, which can have 1 to 15 choices. Descriptive tags are also required to help others find your diary by subject; please don't use "cute" tags.

When you're ready, scroll down below the tags and click Save & Preview. You can edit your diary after it's published by clicking Edit Diary. Polls cannot be edited once they are published.

If this is your first time creating a Diary since the Ajax upgrade, before you enter any text below, please press Ctrl-F5 and then hold down the Shift Key and press your browser's Reload button to refresh its cache with the new script files.


  1. One diary daily maximum.
  2. Substantive diaries only. If you don't have at least three solid, original paragraphs, you should probably post a comment in an Open Thread.
  3. No repetitive diaries. Take a moment to ensure your topic hasn't been blogged (you can search for Stories and Diaries that already cover this topic), though fresh original analysis is always welcome.
  4. Use the "Body" textbox if your diary entry is longer than three paragraphs.
  5. Any images in your posts must be hosted by an approved image hosting service (one of: imageshack.us, photobucket.com, flickr.com, smugmug.com, allyoucanupload.com, picturetrail.com, mac.com, webshots.com, editgrid.com).
  6. Copying and pasting entire copyrighted works is prohibited. If you do quote something, keep it brief, always provide a link to the original source, and use the <blockquote> tags to clearly identify the quoted material. Violating this rule is grounds for immediate banning.
  7. Be civil. Do not "call out" other users by name in diary titles. Do not use profanity in diary titles. Don't write diaries whose main purpose is to deliberately inflame.
For the complete list of DailyKos diary guidelines, please click here.

Please begin with an informative title:

Out in the middle of the Dakotahs is a brand spankin' new monster of a beef processing plant, Dakota Beef Packers. Like a lot of monster food industry plays in South Dakota, it was financed by wealthy Koreans in return for citizenship, which may explain a few things. It's a mile out of the nearest town, Aberdeen, which despite having three Super 8s ain't all that big a town... Super 8 was founded there. The plant does appear to be right next store to Aberdeen's sewage treatment plant, which says something about Dakota Beef's logistics priorities. And while they picked a convenient place to dump their crap, they're over a mile from a major highway on county roads. A couple miles to the north is U.S. 12, four laned with federal funds (South Dakota is good at that game) all the way east to I-29, another fine Dakota pork barrel project.

So clearly Dakota Beef has hung their future on trucking and highways to move 1500 head of cattle a day and the resulting marketable products in and out by highway. Today those roads for over a hundred miles in every direction are ice and snow covered, and this is a good day for truckin' in the Dakotas- the roads haven't been closed (yet). It's been like that for the last couple months since normal winter returned to the northern plains, with the roads barely getting cleared and dried before the weekly blizzard turns them to highway hell again.

Now as every old timer up here knows, winter runs into the spring road breakup season, when the frozen roadbeds melt and truck load limits are dropped in response. Dakota Beef is over a mile down county roads, and Brown County just dropped weight limits on virtually every road in the county from 10 to 6 short tons. That means that the trucks running in and out of Dakota Beef will have to run with reduced loads, and more trucks at more expense will be needed to supply Northern Beef and keep it from getting constipated with it's own products. Worst case will be the outbound trucks, with the loaded weight of a standard 5 axle rig reduced from 40 tons to 30, cutting payloads by about 40%. When your nearest major market is 300 miles away and you're 1500 miles from either coast, those reduced loads eat up any profits.

Now not even a mile from Dakota Beef is a lightly used rail line, fact it looks to be just across the next quarter section. Couple miles north up that rail line is the old Milwaukee Road Pacific Extension, now owned and very well maintained by BNSF. BNSF even runs daily intermodal trains to the west coast and Chicago, and they've plenty of capacity to spare. Hustle up a bunch of refrigerated containers, a 4 axle container chassis and 4 axle semi tractor  to deal with the 6 ton load limits, get a similar 8 axle fleet of cattle hauling rigs to keep the plant supplied, maybe even see if they could convince BNSF to haul cattle again... Dakota Beef could keep their business running profitably regardless of weather and road conditions. But then again, maybe Dakota Beef's Korean investors aren't really in business to make a profit, given the previous bankruptcies at the Korean funded Veblen mega dairies in the same state.

Meanwhile, despite the right wingers repeatedly reminding us that nobody rides long distance passenger trains, Amtrak again broke ridership records in 2012. Amtrak did that despite essentially no investment in new rolling stock in over a decade, and their legendary flagship trains like the Empire Builder are getting on forty years old. Amtrak would have probably filled even more seats if they had the seats to fill- with a three decades old fleet, these trains spend a lot of time in the shop. And remember the right winger's rantings about hundreds of dollar per passenger subsidies? Well, passenger fares are now covering 88% of the cost of Amtrak's long distance trains, a figure no other transit service can match. In fact, the short haul passenger trains and light rail that liberals love require far higher subsidies- fares on new billion dollar light rail lines often barely cover the debt service.

So I look out the window at again drifted over Minnesota 23, and with the winds gusting over 40 MPH the rest of the day it's won't get any better. Alongside it BNSF's underutilized  Marshall Sub's smooth continuous welded rail is overmaintained and sees maybe a dozen trains a day... Rails to the rescue!


You must enter an Intro for your Diary Entry between 300 and 1150 characters long (that's approximately 50-175 words without any html or formatting markup).

Extended (Optional)

Originally posted to GearheadGrrrl on Mon Mar 18, 2013 at 09:14 AM PDT.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions.

Your Email has been sent.