On February 29, 2020 Grain Growers of Canada sent the following letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau regarding the ongoing rail blockades which are resulting in disastrous slowdowns in the movement of grain. Following the 2019 Harvest From Hell the further impacts of the carbon tax, farmers are not able to weather any further disruptions to their income and competitiveness.
Dear Prime Minister Trudeau,
Over the last three weeks, illegal railroad blockades have caused serious economic hardship for our nation. In particular, they have had a devastating effect on Canadian grain farmers – who are already reeling from the 2019 “harvest from hell.”
The blockades have been disastrous for our industry, as agriculture relies on export markets to survive and thrive. Approximately 75 per cent of our grain is exported to international markets. Beyond that, the rail system is also critical to our domestic processing market. It is imperative that our railway system operates efficiently and continuously in order to meet our domestic commitments and maintain our international reputation as a reliable partner.
We have already witnessed disruption to our markets. We can confirm reports that major international grain buyers are now turning away from Canada and looking for other markets. This is simply unacceptable.
Our sector has not recovered from the 8-day CN Rail strike this past November, which created serious backlogs in grain transportation. Cold weather slowdowns and washed out rail lines have only added to this backlog.
Farmers from coast to coast are reeling from the compounded policies of the carbon tax, rail speed slowdowns and now the blockades. Farmers are not paid until their product is delivered to market and now the bills are coming due. Canadian farmers are at serious risk.
If Canadian farmers are going to meet the 2025 target of $75B in exports, there needs to be serious improvements to the conditions that govern the agriculture industry. As a nation, we are eroding the trust we have worked hard to earn on the world stage. That cannot continue.
Prime Minister, grain farmers are facing unprecedented challenges. As an industry, we are ready to get to work to gain back the confidence of international grain buyers, but it must start with you. We implore you to take immediate action to end these blockades and ensure no further disruptions to secure a sustainable future for our farmers and our industry.
Chair, Grain Growers of Canada
c.c. The Hon. Marie-Claude Bibeau, P.C., Minister for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
The Hon. Marc Garneau, P.C., M.P., Transport Minister