A Breath of Optimism for Canola Farmers Unable to Ship Grain

March 7, 2014

Canadian Canola Growers Association media release

Canola farmers breathed an optimistic sigh of relief today as Transport Minister Lisa Raitt and Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz announced temporary measures to compel Canada’s two major railways to move increasingly more western Canadian grain to export positions.

“Farmers have one of the biggest and best crops ever and customers to buy it, yet we’re facing a cash flow crisis with grain movement stalled,” says Brett Halstead, President of the Canadian Canola Growers Association (CCGA). “This action taken by the Government of Canada to get the grain moving quickly is a positive step forward for farmers and for our reputation as a reliable exporter of quality food products. We truly appreciate the Government’s actions on our behalf.”

As of February 25, there were 60,000 railcar orders outstanding, equating to 5.4 million tonnes of grain that had yet to be shipped, leaving country elevators filled to capacity. In addition, 53 vessels were waiting for grain on the west coast with demurrage charges for delayed loadings estimated to be $25 million and growing daily.

CCGA acknowledges this short-term solution and encourages the Government to continue to push for meaningful change that will be required to prevent this type of grain logistics catastrophe from happening again.

“The on-farm productivity gains that we saw in 2013 is not a temporary blip in supply,” says Rick White, Chief Executive Officer of CCGA. “We are setting a new norm for the volumes of canola and other grains that farmers will be growing in the future.”

Today Minister Ritz announced that legislative change is imminent. “CCGA looks forward to seeing the details of this legislation and will continue its work with other supply chain stakeholders to find solutions that work for the long-term,” says White. Further amendments to the Fair Rail Freight Act have been called for, particularly, to assure there are penalties for non-performance.

CCGA represents more than 43,000 canola farmers on national and international issues, policies and programs that impact farm profitability.

Contact:
Kelly Green
Director of Communications
Ph. 204-789-8821 
[email protected]

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