Business & Policy
Minister Bibeau welcomed back as agricultural minister, ag groups demand action on CN rail strike
By Top Crop Manager
Minister Bibeau has been re-appointed as minister of agriculture and agri-food during the 29th federal cabinet announcement on Nov. 20, 2019. Bibeau has been agricultural minister since March 2019.
Several agricultural organizations congratulated Minister Bibeau on her re-appointment such as the Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) and Alberta Wheat and Barley Commissions, among others.
Several organizations have made it known that the agricultural minister’s first order of business should be leading action to resolve the Canadian National Railway (CN) rail strike. The Alberta Wheat and Barley Commission want to see the minister reconvene the parliament ahead of schedule to end the CN strike. The parliament is scheduled to reconvene on Dec. 5, 2019, two weeks after the strike was announced.
The Teamsters Canadian Rail Conference, which represents approximately 3,200 CN employees, announced strike action on November 19, further announcing that they will be winding down rail service. The commissions say it’s only a matter of days before the disruption in service will cause a serious backlog in Canada’s transportation system, causing serious economic consequences for farmers.
The commissions are urging the government to immediately begin the process of introducing Back-to-Work legislation.
“With the new cabinet now in place, we need to see immediate action to avoid significant disruption of grain movement to our global markets. Rail delays not only cause cash flow issues for farmers but also threaten Canada’s reputation as a reliable supplier of grain,” said Hannah Konschuh, Alberta Wheat Commission vice-chair in a statement.
“The rail strike is compounding an already difficult year for farmers with harvest delays, market uncertainty and low prices. Many farmers are only able to access the CN line which means that interruptions in CN movement would have immediate implications on our income and global competitiveness,” added Dave Bishop, Alberta Barley chair.
The Canadian Federation of Agriculture, which represents 200,000 farm families across Canada, outlined that they wish to see Minister Bibeau focus on action on the CN rail strike, trade relief, business risk management programming, rural infrastructure funding and additional funding for climate-change related agricultural research.
According to the latest reports by Reuters as of November 22, “no substantive progress” has been made on key demands by striking workers.