March 7, 2014

Grain Growers of Canada welcomes announcement on rail service

WINNIPEG, MB, March 7, 2014 – The Grain Growers of Canada welcomed today’s announcement from Gerry Ritz, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, and Lisa Raitt, Minister of Transport Canada, who are taking action to address the immediate grain backlog, helping deal with rail system logistics issues.

“We want to thank Ministers Ritz and Raitt for listening and taking action,” said Gary Stanford, Grain Growers of Canada President. “We have held meetings with both of the Ministers and other government officials to express the deep concerns farmers have over the grain backlog, which has grown steadily over the winter.”

“We believe that this action should help to alleviate the backlog and get our grain moving again, and that is good news for farmers and for the Canadian economy,” said Stanford.

The Order in Council Minister Raitt announced today will require the rail companies to immediately double the volume of grain moved per week with a fine of up to $100,000 daily for failure to comply, while Minister Ritz pledged to quickly introduce legislation that will build on the Fair Rail Freight Act.

“We are pleased that the government is addressing the immediate grain backlog,” said Art Enns, President of the Prairie Oat Growers Association and Grain Growers Director, from the announcement in Winnipeg today. “We are cautiously optimistic that the steps announced today will help ensure that Canada’s reputation as a reliable supplier of the world’s highest quality grain will remain intact.”

That export reputation has suffered in recent weeks as last year’s bumper crop has placed significant pressure on Western Canada’s grain handling and transportation system, leading to a backlog of over 60,000 rail car orders representing over five million tonnes of grain. The situation has meant lost income and cash flow problems for farmers unable to sell last year’s harvest, while also affecting the national food chain as millers, maltsters and oat processors run short on supply.

“The Grain Growers of Canada will continue to monitor the situation closely to ensure that the grain backlog is cleared as soon as possible. We look forward to legislation being introduced so that we can review the details. We will work with our members, government and other stakeholders to ensure a long-term solution so that we do not find ourselves in this situation again in the future,” concluded Stanford.

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