December 11, 2012

Grain Growers pleased to see legislation assuring more balance with railways

OTTAWA, December 11, 2012 – The Grain Growers of Canada is optimistic about the Fair Rail Freight Service Act, Bill C-52, introduced in the House of Commons today. “This new legislation will go a long way to address our farmers’ shipping needs,” says Stephen Vandervalk, President of the Grain Growers of Canada. “We are thrilled to see this legislation moving through Parliament. A lot of hard work has gone into this.”

“We need to fully acknowledge the work of the Coalition of Rail Shippers, a group representing 17 industry associations (including the Grain Growers) and over 3,235,000 jobs in Canada. Working together with other export orientated shippers has helped us keep this issue on the front burner,” says Vandervalk. “And we thank Pulse Canada and the Canadian Canola Growers Association for their leadership on agricultural concerns associated with rail service.”

“We especially thank Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, Transportation Minister Dennis Lebel and the federal government for listening to farmers and moving this legislation ahead,” says Vandervalk.

Legislation has long been on the agenda as one of the recommendations brought forward by the independent Rail Freight Service Review Panel in 2010 where the report stated: “Finally, it has long been recognized in transportation law that regulations are required to address the potential abuse of market power by railways.”

As the economy improves, the need for balance in dealing with the railways is imperative. “We fully support the federal government’s aggressive trade agenda and global commerce strategy,” says Art Enns, a member of Grain Growers’ Executive Committee, who attended today’s announcement in Winnipeg. “Timely and efficient rail service is a critical part of Canadian farmers’ market access so this will help us be more globally competitive.”

“Despite potential concerns raised by railways, everyone will agree Canada’s economy is the most important,” says Vandervalk.

“We were glad to see in this bill, the right to a Service Level Agreement, an arbitration process when negotiations fail, and consequences for railways when they don’t live up to their obligations,” says Richard Phillips, Executive Director of the Grain Growers of Canada. “These components, in our view, are an important part of this legislation being effective and enforceable.”

“The Grain Growers will review the Bill in detail and suggest improvements if needed,” Vandervalk explains. “We were also happy to see performance standards included in the arbitration process. Going forward, we will continue to work with the federal government to ensure more accessible measurement mechanisms are in place to make sure that our rail service continues to improve.”

The Grain Growers of Canada is an umbrella organization with 14 provincial and regional grower groups from across the country involved in the grain, pulse and oilseed sectors. Representing tens of thousands of successful wheat, durum, barley, canola, oat, corn, pea, lentil, rye and triticale farmers, the Grain Growers is well known as the national voice of Canadian grain farmers.

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