Farm problem not rail problem, says report

by Canadian Shipper

A new report from the Conference Board of Canada, Railways under Review, suggests that although problems in Canada’s farm sector are admittedly severe, the solution does not lie with the railways.

According to the Conference Board, the panel that is currently reviewing the Canada Transportation Act is spending an inordinate amount of time dealing with pressure from farmer groups who are looking for the railways to share the burden of low world prices for grain.

“History tells us the solution isn’t in using the railroads as a substitute for fixing the underlying problem-in this case distorted international grain markets,” said Andrew Shea, one of the report’s authors.

The key issues for the review panel are the level of competition in the rail sector; the degree to which some shippers are captive to a single railroad; the relationship of the rail sector to the farm sector; and the financial viability of the railroads themselves. The report examines each of these issues and suggests how a return to sweeping regulations would impact the rail industry in Canada.

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