Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz and Transport Minister Lisa Raitt announced details of Bill C-30, the “Fair Rail for Grain Farmers” Act today, in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. The measures, announced on this first day of the new crop year, include some which are hoped to improve the accountability for grain companies in contracts with an aim to provide better protection to farmers.
Of note, the ministers note that the Order in Council will set minimum grain volumes to move between August 3, 2014 and November 29, 2014 for both the Canadian National Railway Company (CN) and Canadian Pacific Railway Company (CP), with a goal of moving carryover levels to an average range by July, 2015. Regulations will require CN and CP to provide additional data on grain movement — a move the government hopes will enable better monitoring of the overall performance.
An amendment to the Railway Interswitching Regulations was also part of the announcement, extending the limit for rail interswitching from 30km to 160km in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. This move is in an effort to increase railway company competitiveness.
In order to increase predictability for shippers, regulations to clarify the role of operational terms in a service level agreement were also announced. Arbitrated by the Canadian Transportation Agency, this will support commercial negotiations between shippers and railways.
“After taking immediate action to get grain and other commodities moving, our Government has been building a solid foundation for managing future challenges,” said Minister Ritz. “Today’s regulations are the latest step in our ongoing efforts to create a rail supply chain that farmers and all shippers can depend on as they grow the Canadian economy.”
The Fair Rail for Grain Farmers Act amended the Canada Transportation Act and the Canada Grain Act and had its first reading in the House of Commons on March 26, 2014, receiving Royal Assent on May 29, 2014.