By Top Crop Manager
Oct. 30, 2013 - Canada's 75,000 grain farmers are almost finished with a record grains and oilseeds harvest and are concerned that a potential labour disruption at CN Rail will be damaging to the market access needed for transportation to port, according to the Grain Growers of Canada.
In a letter to the federal minister of labour, Grain Growers of Canada vice president Gary Stanford encourages the federal government to "take early action to head off this work stoppage and to take swift and decisive action in the event of a strike at CN."
As at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 29, the union and company were in a legal position for a strike or lockout. But before a work stoppage occurs, both parties must first give 72 hours notice.
According to Stanford, Canada's grain growers rely on the rail system as the primary means for transporting crops to markets at home and abroad. "Railway bottlenecks are already an issue at some rural depots; a railway strike would only increase the level of stress on the current grain shipping system, leading to mmediate financial loss for our farmers and potential long-term damage to our foreign markets," he writes.
Canadian grain exports constitute a large part of the $40 billion in agriculture and food products that Canada sells to foreign markets which translates into exports of 65 per cent of malt barley, 70 per cent of wheat and 85 per cent of canola, he adds.
According to the Grain Growers of Canada, the Canadian grain industry spends $1.4 billion on rail freight annually, exporting 35 million tonnes of grain.