Wednesday August 20, 2014

Government wants better grain handling


The Saskatchewan Government is calling on the Federal Government to immediately oversee negotiations between the grain companies and CP and CN that will establish specific parameters around getting grain from the farm gate to ships at port.

“In our meetings last week, both CN and CP indicated they are prepared to negotiate and sign level of service agreements with grain shippers with reciprocal penalties and we are asking the Federal Government to immediately ensure this happens,” Economy Minister Bill Boyd said. “Railway companies assured us they are ramping up to have thousands more grain cars per week taking grain to ports and this will be sustained until at least December 2014. Grain companies told us they could quickly move to provide service 24 hours a day if the grain reaches them.”

Boyd added that the provincial government will be closely monitoring basis levels to ensure that they are reduced as grain car movement improves.

After meetings with grain companies in Regina and Winnipeg, and CN and CP in Montreal and Calgary, the ministers tasked with ensuring Saskatchewan farmers see more of their record crop move are certain that a co-operative effort between the Federal Government, the rail companies and grain companies will see dramatic efficiencies in the system.

In addition to these immediate actions, the Provincial Government is supporting the Federal Government as it moves to bring more transparency and accountability into the system. This should include having weekly reporting requirements around actual car spots, loading at country elevators, delivery of cars to ports and unloading reports at ports.  

“We would also like to see the Canadian Transportation Agency have the ability to independently investigate grain movement before a formal complaint is filed,” Highways and Infrastructure Minister Don McMorris said. “Another step would be to have grain companies sign contracts with farmers that include reciprocal financial penalties.”

“During the course of our meetings, we were able to identify areas that will improve efficiencies for the grain transportation system and we support the Federal Government as it takes the lead in quickly moving these initiatives forward,” Agriculture Minister Lyle Stewart said.

“The Provincial Government will be monitoring the situation on a daily basis to see if both the grain companies and the rail companies come through.”



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