The owner of the B&M baked bean plant in Portland is offering to pay $111,529 to subsidize continued operation of the rail line between Auburn and Portland for at least one more year.

The 24.23-mile-long rail line is used to deliver almost all of the factory’s pea beans – several millions pounds each year – from suppliers in the Midwest and Manitoba.

But the baked bean manufacturer has been the only customer on the rail line since 2006. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, there were three active shippers on the rail line.

Earlier this year, the federal Surface Transportation Board granted permission to the St. Lawrence and Atlantic Railroad to discontinue freight service on the rail line. The board said the railroad company would suffer a substantial loss if the rail line were to be kept open.

However, if the line were to be closed it would cost B&M more money – “a six-figure annual increase” in transportation costs, according to records filed with the board – to have the beans shipped by truck.

It is the only rail line leading to the East Deering bean factory. B&M has been making baked beans at the plant, which overlooks Tukey’s Bridge and Portland’s East End Beach, since 1913.

In a filing made with the Surface Transportation Board on Nov. 5, Robert Rosenberg, an attorney for B&G Foods North America Inc., B&M’s parent company, requested that the board consider the company’s offer of financial assistance to the railroad. Rosenberg’s law practice is based in Washington, D.C.

According to filing records, the company’s $111,529 offer “matches St. Lawrence and Atlantic’s estimate of the cost to keep the line in operation.”

Surface Transportation Board regulations require that B&G must demonstrate that the offer is reasonable and financially responsible before it can be approved.

B&G is a wholly owned subsidiary of B&G Foods, Inc., a publicly traded company that is listed on the New York Stock Exchange. As of Sept. 17, the available borrowing capacity under the company’s revolving credit resource exceeded $400 million. The amount of the rail subsidy is “very modest compared to B&G’s resources, and B&G is thus a financially responsible party,” Rosenberg said in the filing.

Rosenberg explained in the filing that B&G is in the process of negotiating a subsidy agreement with St. Lawrence and Atlantic Railroad that would allow the rail line to remain open for another year. The documents do not address what will happen after one year has passed.