The first part of the winter was quite mild and rail transportation has been very good to this point. Now, the weather has cooled, and question is how will the numbers look as we move forward?
The Canadian Canola Growers Association (CCGA) is one of the groups that monitors transportation issues on the part of Canadian farmers. The point man for that process for CCGA is Steve Pratte, policy manager, and he recently stopped by the RealAg mobile studio to talk about rail transportation.
Pratte says that the investments the railways have agreed to are starting to come on stream and this winter’s movement has been very good. There have been a couple of derailments – one with tragic consequences – that have caused problems, but the hope is movement will continue to be good moving forward.
According to Pratte, the CCGA, and, in fact all the players in the grain industry are very closely watching the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) inquiry going on at Vancouver. This is a test of the new transportation legislation, Bill C-49, the Transportation Modernization Act, so it will set a precedent for further actions by the railroads, the shippers, and the public sector bodies that oversee their work.
“What that means is without a shipper coming forward and filing a complaint, through the agency processes, the agency … if something is identified by them, or the stakeholders, can undertake an investigation of the issue,” says Pratte.
This latest review sstems from some very heavy congestion around the Port of Vancouver. The railways imposed temporary embargoes on some commodities to try to alleviate the problem. What has to be determined is if the it was done in a correct manner. According to Pratte, “What the agency’s looking at is, was there discriminatory practices against particular commodities? And did that, in essence, contravene the railways’ level of service obligations to all shippers?”
The railways are making investments and grain shipments have been setting records in this crop year. These developments may be partially as a result of the new Bill C-49, but what is clear is that all the industry stakeholders are adjusting to a new set of transportation rules.
Watch the entire interview with CCGA policy manager Steve Pratte and RealAgriculture’s Dale Leftwich below.