Saskatchewan wants wheat transport on election menu

by The Canadian Press (CPSTF)

REGINA, Saskatchewan—The Saskatchewan Wheat Development Commission wants grain transportation to be the key federal farm election issue.

Commission chairman Bill Gehl says farmers have lost more than $5 billion over the last two years because of grain transportation difficulties.

The latest numbers from the Agriculture Transportation Coalition show Canadian Pacific Railway and Canadian National supplied 90 percent of ordered hopper cars during Week six of the current crop year.

Gehl, who farms north of Regina, would like to see better numbers before Canada’s reputation as a grain supplier is affected further.

“We’re seeing customers not happy with the service that they’re receiving from Canada and we’ve lost some of those customers, not only to the Americans, but actually out of the Black Sea as well.

“Certainly cause for concerns.”

Gehl says the issue should be at the forefront of the federal election campaign in rural areas.

He would like to see farmers have direct input into plans for grain-handling and transportation in the future to avoid a repeat of the last two years.

A shipping bottleneck two harvests ago due to a shortage of rail cars left huge amounts of grain from a record crop sitting in bins across Western Canada.

It prompted the federal government to bring in rail transportation rules to speed up deliveries.

(CKRM, The Canadian Press)