Transportation delays are beginning to affect the movement of the 2017 crop, and the Transportation Modernization Act, also known as Bill C-49, is not in place yet.

These delays are particularly in areas served by CN Rail.

Foothills MP and Conservative Associate Agriculture Critic, John Barlow says, in 2014 and 2015, the Conservative Government worked hard to put the Fair Access to Rail for Grain Growers Act in place, which ran out in August.

This Act ensured rail companies would provide enough grain cars for farmers to transport their grain to market.

Barlow says, the Liberal Government has decided to include the Fair Access to Rail for Grain Growers Act in Bill C-49, instead of renewing the Act. This move has left Canadian grain farmers with out legislation to protect the transportation of their grain, until Bill C-49 in finalized.

Bill C-49 has passed third reading in the House of Commons.

"That Act is not in place right now, and Bill C-49 is going to have to go through the Senate, and going to need Royal assent, so our position on that was why would you not extend the Fair Access to Rail for Grain Growers Act, and not have it included in Bill C-49."

Barlow says, by extending the Act, instead of including it in Bill C-49, farmers wouldn't be left with no legislation to protect them right now.

"It's a concern that if we start facing some of the issues we faced in 2014, where we have a very strong harvest, and CN and CP are moving rail cars away from hauling grain to other commodities, whether it's oil or coal, that's a concern for us."

The Alberta Wheat Commission (AWC) has also been following this issue for quite some time.

Kevin Auch, Chair of the Commission, says they are encouraging the Senate to consult with stakeholders, and pass the legislation as quick as possible.

"While we didn't get some of the key amendments we had asked for, including improvements to long haul interswitching, the legislation is still a major step in the right direction."

Auch says, with Canada's agriculture sector working to increase its export capacity, AWC has pressed hard to ensure a more efficient, and accountable, transportation system.

The Commission is pleased Bill C-49 will provide reciprocal penalties, which is something they have pressed hard for.

AWC says, this will correct the imbalance between the market power of railways and shippers, and ensure the cost of system failure is not passed down the supply chain to farmers.

Bill C-49 still needs to move through the Senate, and time is of the essence.

 

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