Press Releases

Alberta Wheat Commission Supports Government Push to Resolve Rail Backlog

Government takes immediate action to improve rail service issues and get grain moving.

(Calgary, Alberta) – The Alberta Wheat Commission (AWC) supports the Government’s push to resolve rail transportation issues with today’s unprecedented announcement for an Order in Council that will require rail companies to increase grain shipments immediately, and be penalized if the minimum requirements are not met.

"Today’s announcement demonstrates that the government is committed to ensuring Canada remains a primary and reliable supplier of agriculture products, and recognizes the long-term, negative impact that poor rail service can have on Canada’s international reputation," says Kent Erickson, Chair of AWC. "The rail backlog has resulted in significant costs to the agriculture industry, and AWC applauds the actions of the government for the immediate and long-term solutions that are being implemented."

The Order in Council announced by the Minister of Transport will require Canadian National Railway Company (CN) and Canadian Pacific Railway Company (CP) to increase grain shipments immediately by moving a minimum of 5,500 grain cars each per week, to a target of 1,000,000 metric tonnes per week. Grain companies will be held accountable by providing regular reports to the government, and face prosecution fines of up to $100,000 per day if the requirements are not met.

AWC would like to thank Honorable Gerry Ritz, Minister of Agriculture, and Honorable Lisa Raitt, Minister of Transport for taking regulatory action to ensure growers have access to rail service and the supply chain to meet the needs of our global customers, adds Erickson. AWC’s mandate is to ensure long-term profitability for wheat growers, and our Board supports any action that will meet this goal.

The delay in rail service has already had a significant economic impact on western Canadian growers with numerous ships waiting to load in Vancouver and Prince Rupert and demurrage charges now exceeding $25 million. In addition, news out of Japan indicates that they plan to buy more grain from the United States instead of Canada due to poor delivery and no clear resolution to the bottlenecks. In addition to the $2-4 billion cost this has had on growers, more importantly, Canada’s reputation as a quality and reliable supplier has been hanging on the line.

AWC will continue to work with government, industry and growers to ensure long-term solutions are in place to avoid rail transportation issues in the future, and ensure Canada’s reputation as a quality and reliable supplier is maintained.

For more information please contact:

Amanda Ryan
Communications Manager
P. (403) 219-7902 C. (587) 777-6344E.

The Alberta Wheat Commission is a producer-directed organization representing the interests of and serving as a single voice for all of Alberta’s 11,000 wheat producers.