February 3, 2014

Grain Growers supports action on rail service

WINNIPEG, MB, Feb. 3, 2014 – Today in Winnipeg Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz released the Crop Logistics Working Group (CLWG) recommendations to improve rail service and the competitiveness of the supply chain.

“We want to thank Minister Ritz for continuing to recognise the rail capacity needs of grain farmers and the urgency of the current situation,” says Grain Growers Director, Dennis Thiessen from the announcement in Winnipeg today. “These recommendations make sense and they are needed at this time. Improving the frequency of reporting and better communications with industry, railways, government and farmers at the table is what is needed to get the grain moving.”

“We had a record crop last year with a significant increase in yields. A buoyant farm economy, better genetics, increased usage of new and better fungicides, overall better agronomics, and better utilization of micro-nutrients in fertilizer application were all contributing factors ,” says Gary Stanford, Grain Growers of Canada President. “While good crops are always weather dependent – because of these new technologies and better and more sustainable farming practices, there is no doubt that farmers’ yields will continue to increase.”

Thiessen represents the Manitoba Corn Growers Association on the GGC Board of Directors. “We are seeing pulses, soybeans and corn, which I grow, being produced by western Canadian farmers more and more,” explains Thiessen. “Transportation systems need to adapt to these new crops in Canada, because rail service is tied to farmers’ market access and export potential.”

“We recognise the challenges that come with a severe winter and we also see other commodities like oil creating competition for track space so we feel pipelines would help relieve railway congestion,” says Stanford. “We need to highlight the reality of larger grain volumes to the railways going forward as this will have an impact on future movement by rail.”

Grain Growers also continues to highlight the fact that the grain back log will cause a cash flow issue for many farmers come spring.

GGC supports the leadership of Pulse Canada with their new project which will help to measure rail service supply chain efficiency by providing good data to help communicate long standing rail service issues to be used in the upcoming 2015 rail service review process as a means to turn things around in the long term.

Increase in grain volumes is good news for farmers and good news for the Canadian economy which improved the railways’ bottom line with recent railway earnings showing record profits. “We encourage the railways to consider reinvesting profits into rail cars, engines, hiring, and better communications processes with the elevators,” says Stanford. “Gearing up to alleviate the grain backlog needs to translate into long term service solutions in the future so that rail service is responsive to the expanding business that farmers, as rail customers, are offering.”

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