Saskatchewan Pulse Growers (SPG) is calling for amendments to Bill C-49 at a time of disappointing railway performance for the grain supply chain.

For the crop year to date in Saskatchewan, CN has supplied, on-time, only 66 per cent of the hopper cars ordered by grain shippers. For the last four weeks, CN has provided less than 50 per cent of rail car orders, including 30% in the most recent week. CP performance declined in recent weeks.

“The railway service issues experienced by the Canadian agriculture industry are systemic,” says Corey Loessin, Chair of Saskatchewan Pulse Growers. “Delays and service disruptions continue to have a significant impact on farmers looking to move their crop, and on shippers who have little to no recourse to improve their service in a timely way, while railway companies face no significant impact.”

The inadequate level of service by Canadian railways comes at a time when pulse crop movement is already low due to market access challenges. “Pulse crop exports are at less than 50 per cent of normal levels during this period due to trade barriers in India, and the railways are still not able to deliver adequate service,” Loessin says. “The lack of on-time service is further compromising Canada’s competitiveness in end-use markets.”

SPG encourages the Canadian Government to amend Bill C-49, Transportation Modernization Act to provide the Canadian Transportation Agency with Own-motion power and to include soybeans and chickpeas as eligible crops under the maximum revenue entitlement (MRE). Own-motion power would remove the requirement of the Agency to receive a complaint from a shipper, instead enabling the Agency to investigate service issues and railways actions independently, and identify solutions within their regulatory toolbox. Requiring a formalized complaint from a shipping company is a costly, and risky requirement, with shippers expressing concerns of retaliation from railway companies in the form of even poorer service.

“The Ag Transport Coalition (ATC) has developed a level of real-time performance measurement for rail transportation for 90 per cent of grain shipped from Western Canada. This reporting provides daily and weekly information on grain pipeline performance,” says Carl Potts, Executive Director for SPG. “The data that has been made available through the ATC has positioned the Canadian agriculture industry better than ever to identify when these systemic issues are occurring, and request the Agency to investigate. These reports also provide decision-makers with the information needed to make immediate decisions based on system performance.”

Saskatchewan Pulse Growers believes that Own-motion powers are a reasonable extension of the transparency that the ATC has brought to the system. “We encourage the Senate Standing Committee on Transport and Communications to amend Bill C-49 to include the Own-motion power provision,” says Loessin. “We believe this is critical to fostering a more effective and higher functioning transportation system for farmers in Saskatchewan, and the entire grain supply chain.”

Including soybeans and chickpeas as MRE-eligible crops will ensure chickpea and soybean growers are afforded the same transportation rate protection and competitiveness as is offered to all crops covered under the MRE.

Related Information:

Letter to Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications Re: Own Motion Power

Letter to Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications Re: MRE Inclusion for Soybeans and Chickpeas

For media inquiries, please contact: 

Rachel Kehrig      
Director of Communications & Market Promotion             
Saskatchewan Pulse Growers                          
Cell: (306) 230-6488           

Andrea Lauder 
Communications Manager
Saskatchewan Pulse Growers
Cell: (306) 250-6858