Business & Policy
Canola farmers call on government to resolve shipping disruption at CN
On the eve of Canada’s new Cabinet being announced, canola farmers woke to hear they are facing yet another challenge in what has been an extremely difficult year. A strike by CN rail workers will effectively halt the shipping of grain for many of Canada’s canola farmers and negatively impact the industry’s ability to supply international customers.
“A strike at CN is just adding to the big challenges that farmers have already faced in 2019,” says Bernie McClean, President of Canadian Canola Growers Association (CCGA). “For canola, we’ve had a major market close, an extremely difficult growing season, one of the worst harvests on record, and now rail service for many farmers will grind to a halt, negatively impacting farm cash flow.”
Without rail service, the grain handling system quickly backs up, elevators fill up and stop accepting grain into their facilities and, in turn, farmers lose the ability to sell their canola and generate the necessary cash flow to manage their farm operations.
“A strike is turning an already difficult situation into a crisis,” says Rick White, Chief Executive Officer of CCGA. “Canola farmers urge the newly appointed Cabinet and specifically the Labour Minister to understand the seriousness of this situation and move quickly to resolve the CN labour disruption.” CCGA has already sent a letter to Canada’s current Minister of Labour calling for immediate action.
The grain industry is now heading into a key shipping time for international grain sales. Any lost shipping opportunities will not be recovered.
“The effects of a strike are not localized and, given the critical nature of rail transport, any prolonged shipping disruption will have devastating effects on the economy as a whole,” says White. Canada’s canola industry annually contributes $26.7 billion to the Canadian economy and accounts for 250,000 Canadian jobs.