Friday, August 12, 2016

Saskatchewan farmers, government officials have concerns on transportation and labour issues at Prince Rupert terminal

Saskatchewan farmers and government
officials are keeping an eye on
transportation and labour issues related
to the transportation of grain this fall
Farmers across Canada's western provinces face any number of challenges when it comes to bring in the crops and get them to market. From drought to sudden rain and wind issues to transportation bottle necks the shift from growing season to shipment time is  now on the radar for provincial officials in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Alberta.

For the Saskatchewan government the ability of Canadian National and Canadian Pacific to get grain and other crops to port facilities on the west coast is once again capturing some of their focus.

In a number of media opportunities over the last few days, Saskatchewan's Agriculture Minister Lyle Stewart offered up some thoughts on the stresses that the rail system has faced in the past, noting that with a strong crop year on track for shipment for this fall, Canada's transportation system will need to be at peak efficiency to get the crop to shipment terminals.

Both railways have offered up their reassurances to the Saskatchewan government that they are more than ready to accept and deliver the anticipated large volumes that could be on the way for this fall.

Grain Cars on a siding at the Prince Rupert waterfront 

Stewart also noted that he's keeping an eye on potential labour troubles at the Port of Prince Rupert, observing that there is the potential for a labour disruption on the North Coast heading into the fall.

In comments to a Saskatoon based news site, the Saskatchewan Agriculture Minister noted that Saskatchewan officials had received information that employees on the North Coast had provided their union with a strike mandate to back contract talks.

With the need to ship crops to world markets without any lengthy delays, the Saskatchewan agriculture minister is already encouraging the Federal Government to consider back to work legislation, just in case the worst case scenario of a west coast port shutdown should come to pass.

Some of the concerns over the shipment of crops from Saskatchewan to terminals on the west coast can be found below:

August 11 -- Saskatchewan warns railways to be ready to transport larger-than-average crop
August 11 -- Rail companies say they're ready for large grain crop
August 10 -- Ag Minister Stewart warning feds, grain companies, railways to get ready for above-average crop

Some of our past notes on CN operations on the North Coast can be found here, while more background on items of interest from Prince Rupert Grain can be reviewed on our archive page.

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