Grain Farmers Across Canada Call for Resolution as Railway Workers Vote to Strike

(Ottawa, ON – May 1, 2024) Following the recent announcement that over 95% of railway workers at Canadian National Railway (CN) and Canadian Pacific Kansas City (CPKC) have voted in favour of strike action as early as May 22, Grain Growers of Canada (GGC), representing over 65,000 grain farmers across the country, calls for an urgent resolution to prevent potentially mass disruptions to the agricultural sector and the broader Canadian economy.

Andre Harpe, Chair of the Grain Growers of Canada, stated, “As farmers, our operations are closely tied to rail transport, both inbound to access crop inputs and outbound to deliver grain to export position. A rail strike now is the last thing we need. We’re at a critical point in the seeding season, and any delay in shipping can directly affect our bottom line and cause substantial economic losses across the agricultural sector.”

The potential for a combined strike at both CN and CPKC could severely impact the grain sector, which is highly dependent on rail transportation due to Canada’s vast geography. Approximately 94% of Canadian grain is transported by rail, with a significant portion destined for export markets. A disruption in rail service could leave grain elevators unable to accept crops from farmers due to limited storage capacity, resulting in delayed payments and financial hardships for growers.

“We are deeply worried about the impact a strike would have, not just on our operations but on Canada’s reputation as a reliable supplier. Consecutive supply chain disruptions have already strained our relationships with international buyers. Another stoppage could drive them to seek other markets, affecting us long-term,” added Brendan Phillips, 2nd Vice Chair of GGC.

GGC emphasizes the two-fold impact of the dispute: domestically, grain elevators will face storage issues, port terminals will suffer demurrage, and internationally, Canada risks weakening trade relations due to unreliable grain deliveries. In June 2023, Canada exported over 2.6 million metric tonnes of grain, highlighting the potential economic loss of over $35 million for each day in June that a strike persists.

Grain Growers of Canada stresses the importance of uninterrupted rail service for the agriculture sector’s sustainability and international competitiveness. “We urge the unions and railway companies to consider the broader impact of their negotiations. It’s crucial to find a resolution that keeps our trains moving and our grain flowing to markets around the world,” Harpe concluded.

As the mediation period begins, GGC is advocating strongly for a resolution that ensures the stability and continuity of Canada’s grain supply chain, which is essential for the livelihoods of Canadian grain farmers, our country’s food security, and our economy.


For more information:

Hana Sabah
Communications Manager
P: (514) 834-8841