Saskatchewan Pulse Growers (SPG) is gravely concerned about the impact the CN rail strike will have on Saskatchewan farmers, especially on the heels of a difficult growing season and already restricted market access.
We have written to the Federal Government calling for immediate decisive action to be taken to restore full rail freight service.
Our national association Pulse Canada is the lead for the Canadian pulse industry on transportation. As part of their ongoing work, they have been actively involved with the Canadian government and the railway in seeking a resolution to this issue.
Please see the letter SPG sent to Filomena Tasso, the new Minister of Labour below.
November 20, 2019
Honourable Filomena Tassi, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Labour
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6
Dear Minister Tassi,
Saskatchewan Pulse Growers is a farmer-led development board in Saskatchewan, working on behalf of the 15,000 growers of soybeans and pulse crops such as lentils, peas, and chickpeas. We make investments into research and market development, and advocate in support of growth of the sector.
Saskatchewan is Canada’s largest producer and exporter of pulse crops, accounting for half of Canada’s pea production and 90% of Canada’s lentil and chickpea production. Nearly 85% of Canadian pulse production is exported. Therefore we are incredibly reliant on a well-functioning grain transportation system to ensure we remain competitive in the global market.
As you know Canadian National (CN) Conductors, Trainspersons, and Yardworkers began strike action on Tuesday, November 19. As a result CN has also embargoed all commodities traffic from Canada. A major service disruption like this will have devastating impacts on the Canadian agriculture sector, causing significant financial losses and lay-offs across the industry.
The Canadian pulse industry is already in distress as a result of severely reduced access to our largest export market, India, due to protectionist trade policies by India. A loss of transportation services as a result of the strike will cause even further irreparable harm to Canadian farmers. Disruptions to export markets that are caused from railway strikes can cause foreign importers to seek other sources of supply for agriculture products, in some cases causing a permanent loss of market share. This means that a work stoppage of any length will significantly impede Canadian farmers’ ability to deliver their pulse crops to markets around the world, damaging Canada’s reputation as a reliable and consistent supplier. This result will be significant and long-term impacts on the Canadian economy.
Saskatchewan Pulse Growers encourages the Government to take decisive action to restore full rail freight service, protecting Canada’s exports and trading relationships, as well as our economy.
Chair, Board of Directors
CC: The Right Honourable Justin P. J. Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada
The Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport, P.C., M.P.
The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, P.C., M.P.