Storage & Transport
AWC provides the producer perspective on grain transportation by rail
By Alberta Wheat Commission
In a presentation to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, the Alberta Wheat Commission (AWC) urged the quick passage of Bill C-49 – historic federal legislation that promises to provide long-term solutions to Canada’s grain transportation issues which have plagued the industry for decades.
AWC’s presentation also recommended amendments to the legislation that would improve the effectiveness of long haul interswitching as a tool to improve railway competition. As currently proposed, AWC believes the new interswitching provisions may be less effective than those enacted under the former Bill C-30.
Overall, AWC is pleased with measures in Bill C-49 – the Transportation Modernization Act, that will help correct the imbalance between the market power of railways and shippers and ensure that the cost of system failures are not passed down the supply chain to farmers.
“AWC appreciates the federal government’s commitment to legislation that will improve railway competition and accountability in Canada,” said Kevin Auch, AWC Chair. “AWC has been pressing for rail reform since our organization began in 2012 and we saw the invitation to speak today as another opportunity to ensure the farmer voice is truly represented as this legislation is developed.”
As a member of the Crop Logistics Working Group (CLWG), AWC also supports a series of suggested amendments that deal with more timely reporting of railway service data and requirements that the railways provide more detailed volume forecasts and operational plans to the Minister at the beginning of each crop year. The CLWG is a regular forum for grain industry stakeholders to identify supply chain challenges and commercial solutions aimed at enhancing the transparency and effectiveness of the grain handling transportation system.
“We see our membership with the CLWG as an excellent opportunity to pass producer feedback directly to Minister MacAulay as it relates to grain movement by rail,” said Auch. “In providing these amendments, we hope to see long-awaited legislation that fosters growth of the agriculture sector and supports Canada’s reputation as a reliable supplier of grain to our international customers.”
AWC encourages the federal government to continue the conversation with Canada’s agriculture sector as it works to develop the regulations to support the spirit and the intention of this legislation that seeks to create a more responsive, competitive and accountable rail system in Canada.