Representatives from the Grain Growers of Canada (GGC) met with railway officials and grain companies at a Ministerial roundtable in Winnipeg on Tuesday to discuss the current state of affairs related to the grain backlog.
"We were satisfied with today's meeting and the direct dialogue that has begun with the railways and grain companies. We appreciate the federal government's initiative to provide a forum to voice concerns," says Brian Otto, Grain Growers' Director representative for the Western Barley Growers Association. "At the meeting we asked the railways what the plan is to alleviate this year's immediate backlog of grain and ship larger volumes of grains and oilseeds in the future."
The Minister of Agriculture, Gerry Ritz, organized the roundtable meeting with the entire value chain, in response to the growing backlog of grain, bringing everyone together, in order to address the current situation.
“We want to thank Minister Ritz for bringing all parties together at this meeting as a chance to engage directly with the railways and we hope to begin an ongoing dialogue for the future. Rail service affects the entire value chain; farmers all the way down to the grocery store at the end of your street,” says Gary Stanford, Grain Growers of Canada President.
“We want to emphasize to the railways that this is the new normal. Better crop genetics and new crop options along with good weather means there could be more grain to ship next year,” says Stanford.
Manitoba Pulse Growers, a member of the GGC participated in the meeting with the railways.
“We need to get the grain moving because many farmers may not be paid for last year’s harvest until after spring planting,” says Kyle Friesen, President of the Manitoba Pulse Growers Association and farmer Director on the Grain Growers of Canada. “This is already causing lost sales, things need to improve otherwise this will translate into a serious cash flow issue for farmers when they need to buy seed and inputs this spring.”
Announced yesterday in Winnipeg was a new project which will measure performance for grain traffic helping to gauge rail service supply chain efficiency and reliability. The Grain Growers of Canada supports the project, which will be led by Pulse Canada, a collaborative effort with Canadian Canola Growers Association (CCGA), the Western Grain Elevators Association (WGEA) and the Inland Terminals Association of Canada (ITAC) and other participating partners.
“We commend Pulse Canada for taking leadership on the rail file and look forward to good data to help communicate our long standing rail service challenges,” says Stanford.
“Filling farmers’ capacity needs and increased shipping volume means more business for the railways,” says Stanford. “We hope to see action coming out of this meeting and look forward to continuing a direct dialogue with the railways. We need solutions to fix the immediate issues and need to know there is a long term plan in place so this doesn’t happen again.”