Press Releases

Alberta Wheat Commission Working with Industry on Rail Transportation Solutions

AWC is working with industry on solutions to the supply chain to avoid economic losses for growers.

(Calgary, Alberta) – The Alberta Wheat Commission (AWC) understands that transportation is a major issue facing our industry. The Board and staff recognize that a long-term strategy needs to be put in place to avoid transportation issues in the future, and that short term pressure needs to be applied at all levels to assist the entire supply chain in getting Canadian wheat to market.

"Our Board is looking at a number of options and proposals that can improve rail service over the long-term," says Kent Erickson, Chair of the AWC Board. "Growers have been living up to their expectations and meeting their contract requirements by delivering their grain, but the flow stops once the grain needs to be moved to port with rail shipments down 3-4% this year."

AWC has been working with the federal government as part of the Crop Logistics Working Group, and industry and national groups across Canada on cross sector transportation initiatives to develop solutions that will benefit all members of the value chain. One initiative is the long-term study Enhancing the Competitiveness of the Agriculture Supply Chain Initiative, a multi sector project with the Government of Canada, Pulse Canada and a number of other industry groups to create a long-term strategy that will provide solutions to build a more efficient and reliable agricultural supply chain.

"AWC’s partnership with Pulse Canada on this project will provide an in-depth study of the entire value chain to find real solutions," explains Erickson. "Also through our support of Cereals Canada, we are working with the Barley Council of Canada and the Prairie Oat Growers Association to look at solutions for the transportation issues this year, and a solution that will continue to ensure a reliable rail system in the future."

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, recent 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 is hanging on the line.

"These are significant economic losses for the grain industry and we rely on the transportation system to move our product to market," adds Erickson. "Short term solutions are not easy, and AWC encourages growers to be vocal about the impact the lack of service from the Canadian railways has had on their operations."

AWC will continue to work government, industry and growers to find short and long-term solutions to the rail issues over the next few months. AWC encourages the federal government on their push for stricter regulations for poor rail service.

For more information please contact:

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

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.