Friday, October 25, 2013

Canadian farmers urge solution to potential CN strike

With Canadian National (CN) and Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC) locked in a dispute, the industries that rely on the railway to ship products will be stuck with significantly fewer options if they go to a strike after the cooling off period.

 

"One thing we just didn't need right now is for grain elevators that are already full, to not be able to ship product out," said Bob Friesen, CEO of FNA Strategic Agriculture Institute (FNA-STAG). "Farmers are ultimately the ones who suffer, they will have no choice but to hold their unsold inventory longer because elevators are full and unable to take delivery".

The recent unexpectedly large harvest in much of western Canada is good news for farmers, but it is a huge concern when that volume cannot be marketed in a timely manner, or at steady prices because of a potentially dysfunctional transportation system. According to FNA-STAG, lready many elevators on the prairies, as well as farms, have resorted to piling grain on the ground, which causes quality loss the longer it sits. FNA-STAG says the inability for farmers to transport their goods to market causes backlogs and further difficulty in an already stretched rail transportation system.

And while farmers need access to markets to pay their bills, the buyers around the world start looking at other markets if delivery commitments default. FNA-STAG warns that even a looming strike can cause buyers to look elsewhere.

FNA-STAG is calling on CN and the TCRC to avoid a strike situation and ensure that rail traffic moves smoothly and efficiently.

"Farmers resent the fact that their potential income is being held ransom and are counting on both sides in this dispute to work it out", stated Friesen.

If this situation is not resolved before a strike, FNA-STAG calls on the federal government to implement back to work legislation.

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