Addressing rail capacity issues

On March 7 our Government issued an Order in Council that required railways to meet minimum weekly targets

On March 7 our Government issued an Order in Council that required railways to meet minimum weekly targets on volume of grains transported and on March 26th Minister Ritz and Minister Raitt introduced the Fair Rail for Grain Farmers Act. After hearing from so many farmers about their concerns I was pleased to see our Government move to provide farmers with the support they need.

The recent troubles farmers have faced with getting their grain to markets is over shadowing the tremendous success they have seen this year, the Western Canadian crop produced 76 million tonnes.  This volume is putting significant pressures on Western Canada’s grain handling and transportation system and a solution is needed for our farmers; as the Government continues to foster an environment of research and innovation through legislation such as C-18 The Agriculture Growth Act, higher yields will become the new reality across Canada.

Our Government has been working hard with farmers and the railways to ensure there is a solution.  There is no denying the increase in the yield we have seen this year from Western Canadian farmers is putting stress on our transportation system and our farmers are under increased stress because of the backlog; it is for that reason we need a strong and reliable rail system that gets all of our commodities, grain included to its destination.

Our Government is taking immediate and concrete action to ensure our system’s integrity and that our railways get grain moving faster, Bill C-30 will increase supply chain transparency, strengthen contracts between producers and shippers, and help ensure the entire grain handling and transportation system is working efficiently at the top of its capacity.

What does that mean exactly?  Going forward, railways will be required to deliver more timely data on grain movements – this will better monitor the overall performance of the supply chain.  As well the Canadian Transport Agency will also be gathering information from all supply chain partners on shipping capacities and plans prior to each new crop year in order to advise the Minister whether specific grain volumes should be mandated for the coming year.

Our Government is moving ahead with this legislation to address the grain backlog and to maintain our strong – rail based supply chain system.  Grain farmers need assurance of cash flow and we need to ensure that the transportation system is able to empty the bins and be prepared for next year’s harvest.

With any legislation there will be an opportunity to address concerns and comments at debate and Committee stage and I look forward to speaking with the Minister and sharing feedback on Bill C-30 so we can provide grain farmers and railway companies with the best working system.

Please contact my Constituency office if you have any questions or concerns on any federally related matters, postage free, at: Bay #6A, 4612 – 50th Street, Ponoka, T4J 1S7; tel: 403-783-5530; toll free: 1-800-665-0865 or visit my web site: www.blainecalkinsmp.ca or on twitter at www.twitter.com/blainecalkinsmp.