ST. PAUL (AP) - Labor contract disputes at West Coast seaports are slowing Minnesota agricultural exports headed for international markets.

The labor disputes compound delays already caused by congested rail lines.

Soybeans are Minnesota's top agricultural export with half of the crop sent overseas. Specialty crops are loaded into shipping containers and are taken by rail to the West Coast to be shipped to China, Japan and Korea.

Midwest Shippers Association executive director Bruce Abbe tells Minnesota Public Radio News ( ) the situation has dramatically worsened in recent weeks. He says growing transportation problems could impact the relationships Minnesota farmers have with Asian buyers.

Delays are also causing financial penalties for companies who ship specialty soybeans and can't deliver by a contract deadline.