March 7, 2018

Open letter to Ministers MacAulay and Garneau – Legislation is what will get grain moving

Jeff Nielsen

March 7, 2018

Minister Lawrence MacAulay
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Minister Marc Garneau
Transport Canada

Dear Ministers,

We welcome your recent letter to CN and CP railways asking them to improve grain service in Western Canada. Grain farmers and shippers have been asking railways to do the same thing for months to no avail; we hope that your letter will spur them to action. Unfortunately, after years of trying to work with the railways, we know that the only way service will improve is if shippers have the tools to hold railways to account.

Experience has shown that grain shippers are the first to experience poor rail service during a downturn and the last to see service improve. This results in grain being left in bins across the Prairies and farmers going unpaid. Rather than paying bills and getting ready to seed, farmers are left to struggle to make ends meet.

While we are appreciative of your letter to the railways, experience has given us no reason to be optimistic that the railways will act without any legislative mechanism that would compel them to do so. It is for this reason that the grain sector needs Bill C-49 passed. Furthermore, the grain sector remains united in their view that to be effective, and to deliver on the level of accountability and competition that the government has promised, C-49 must be amended. Farmers know that we are likely to end up in a similar situation again unless improvements are made to the Bill.

Grain farmers are asking you to support the amendments recommended by the grain industry and to work with the Senate to get an amended Bill C-49 passed as quickly as possible. Supporting the amendments will reinforce with the railways that the status quo is unacceptable and that they will be held to account for poor service in the future.

Hard working farm families across the Prairies are looking to you now to step up to do what is right. For too long railways have used their monopolistic powers against grain farmers. This rail crisis needs to be the last one, we need this fixed, and we need you to help fix it.


Jeff Nielsen
President, Grain Growers of Canada


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