Rail shipping delays affecting grain prices across province PDF Print
Local Content - Local Agriculture
Written by Trevor Busch   
Wednesday, 12 February 2014 18:35

Rail shipping delays across Western Canada that have impacted grain prices for producers are being addressed by the federal government through a series of initiatives aimed at getting shipments back on track.
“The minister (Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz) has met with all of the stakeholders — he’s met with the farmers, he’s met with the grain companies, and met with the railways — and he has tasked them with a solution to come up with a way to ease this problem with the grain transportation issue, which is currently bogged down,” said Medicine Hat MP LaVar Payne.
Last week, Payne participated in an emergency debate in the House of Commons, discussing the grain shipping delays and the impact on local communities.
Payne refuted allegations made by pro-Canadian Wheat Board organizations and individual supporters that the delays in grain shipping are due in part to the removal of the single desk marketing system.
“Not true at all. Interestingly, the wheat board supporters have been saying a number of things, including it’s because of moving from the single desk seller. That’s not true — there are more producer cars available and have been delivered under this new system. They totally want to ignore the fact that now there’s more wheat and barley grown and sold on the world market,” said Payne.
“Before, the numbers were dropping and dropping, because they could only use the single desk seller. This has nothing to do with the wheat board. I know they’ve tried to have the opposition suggest that, but it’s totally inaccurate.”
Producers throughout the riding have been expressing frustration with the delays and the corresponding negative impact on prices.  
“I’ve had a lot of calls from grain farmers,” said Payne.
“They’re all concerned about not shipping, and the downward impact on pricing. If you’re not shipping, the grain companies are not prepared to give you the big buck for it. So it has impacted pricing.”
Payne blamed the glut in supply and the lack of expeditious movement on rail lines on a number of factors.
“There’s a number of reasons for some of that. My understanding is that last fall the railways were moving pretty good, but come winter they actually have to reduce the number of cars on each train that they send out, because of the air brakes. That’s one problem. The second problem of course is record crops, and that has created a bit of a problem. So the minister has tasked them to come up with a solution, and we’re hoping that we’ll see something come out of it in the next week or so.”
The federal government passed the Fair Rail Service Act in 2013, which was a first major step in ensuring there would be penalties for companies that violated arbitrated service agreements with shippers.
“We have the Rail Service Act that we brought in last year. Hopefully that’s going to help out. But there’s some things around there that have to be done, with the railways and the producers actually formalizing an agreement,” said Payne.

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