Efforts by farm groups, government and others to get more grain to market are intensifying.
The Grain Growers of Canada is urging farmers to contact their members of parliament and tell them know how the rail issue is affecting them personally. Farmers harvested the biggest crop ever last year, there are countries that want to buy it and they don’t want them to look elsewhere for grain.
The railways are largely blaming the weather for their inability to move more grain to port.
Story continues below
The president of the Grain Growers of Canada said some livestock producers in B.C. are getting feed for cattle, hogs and other animals from the U.S.
“That’s a great concern for me being a western Canadian farmer,” said Gary Stanford. “I can’t sell my own products in my own country because the railways won’t get it there.”
The Grain Growers of Canada wants farmers to contact their members of parliament.
Lethbridge member of parliament Jim Hillyer said, “We’ve got one of the best crops that we’ve had in years and years and years and the fact that farmers are sitting their with their grain still on their land or sitting there on a rail somewhere not moving is a major problem.”
With spring seeding coming up, farmers are concerned about cash flow. There is also concern some countries might stop seeing Canada as a reliable supplier if grain shipments don’t improve and take their business elsewhere.
“There was one ship from Japan that needed to get filled to get back to Japan so they pulled it out of Vancouver and went down to Portland and loaded at Portland so they could get it back,” said Stanford. “That’s what we’re stressing to CP and CN Rail, that if you’re not going to move the grain fast enough or you’re not going to do it, are we going to lose market share.”
Trains that go through the mountains in the winter are shorter than trains are in the summer. The Grain Growers of Canada suggest the railways use more trains in the winter.
Stanford said, “Railways in Canada, they’ve leased some of their locomotives to companies down in the States. So what I’ve recommended to the railways in Canada, can you go get some of those locomotives back.”
Last week, Alberta Agriculture Minister Vern Olson asked his federal counterpart to impose immediate cash penalties on railways that don’t meet their obligations moving grain.