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President’s Report (PCN Summer 2014) JUL 9 2014 | Consumers and Producers | Pulse Crop News

This article appeared in the Summer 2014 issue of Pulse Crop News.

Richard Krikke, APG President

I was pleased to learn that the Fair Rail for Grain Farmers Act (Bill C-30) had been passed recently as it promises to expedite the movement of agricultural products and other commodities to market.

This development is certainly a step in the right direction because Canada’s agricultural industry could not bear the burden of being unable to move ag products for much longer. However, many specialty crop producers are concerned about whether the legislation will benefit them in getting their crops to market.

APG, along with pulse grower organizations across the country, recognized the need for improved transportation system performance nine years ago, and made significant investments of our producer check-off dollars in Pulse Canada’s work on the transportation issue on behalf of the pulse industry. Canada’s pulse industry is now viewed as a national leader in this area and has been successful in uniting shippers of other products to address shortcomings in our rail system.

APG continues to work with Pulse Canada to ensure that specialty crops like pulses are not left out from hauling. As a result of investment by APG’s levy payers, Pulse Canada was the only shipper group in the country to develop a service level agreement based on industry recommendations and promote the package to the Rail Freight Service Review Panel. In the last year, APG check-off money has also helped fund a Pulse Canada project to develop a rail forecasting and performance measurement program.

APG Vice President Allison Ammeter, as well as Commissioners D’Arcy Hilgartner and Nick Sekulic, attended the announcement regarding the passage of the rail logistics legislation by Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz near Fort Saskatchewan, AB on May 30.

According to an Agriculture and AgriFood Canada news release, the Fair Rail for Grain Farmers Act does the following:

  • Requires rail companies to move one million tonnes of grain every week through to August 3, 2014, extending the volume requirements under the Order in Council that was announced on March 7.
  • Gives shippers in the three Prairie provinces more rail options by extending interswitching rights through regulations to 160 kilometres for all commodities.
  • Strengthens accountability between shippers and the railways and strengthens farmers’ contracts with grain companies.
  • Allows shippers to be directly compensated for any expenses they incur as a result of the railways’ failure to meet their level of service obligations under the Canada Transportation Act.

The progress made to date that resulted in Bill C-30 coming into force is the outcome of many agricultural industry associations across the country making transportation a top priority and working toward positive change. It was encouraging to see so many groups working toward a common goal, and I hope everyone will continue to keep this issue at the forefront until it is resolved.

While the passage of the Fair Rail for Grain Farmers Act was a good start toward moving crops to market in a more predictable way and alleviating some of the backlog, we are not out of the woods yet. APG and other ag groups must continue to focus attention on this issue until the backlog of crops is alleviated for producers of all ag products and commodities across Canada.

This is especially important as long-term solutions to rail transportation issues are discussed starting this summer as a result of the federal government accelerating the review of the Canada Transportation Act. APG will continue to utilize grower funds and represent the interests of our members through Pulse Canada by working toward a long-term solution to this important issue.