Grain farmers welcome end to CN rail strike

Crucial that government acts now to ensure that the next time strike action is threatened the entire economy is not held hostage.

OTTAWA (November 26, 2019) – The Grain Growers of Canada (GGC) are pleased to hear that CN and the Union representing CN workers, Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC), have reached a tentative deal, which will see workers back on the job as early as this afternoon.

GGC will now be focused on how quickly CN can resume operations, keeping a close eye on how they prioritize the shipment of grain as well as the propane required to dry this year’s crop.

“The last thing we needed coming off of one of the worst harvests on record was any sort of delay getting our products to market and inputs to our farms,” said GGC Vice Chair Markus Haerle from his farm in St. Isidore, ON. “With access challenges in key markets around the world and on-farm profitability at its lowest point in six years, farmers cannot afford any further delays, we have to get grain moving again.”

The backlog which resulted from the week-long strike has added to the some of the biggest challenges that Canadian farmers have faced in years. The loss of major international markets including China and India among others, a terrible growing season and one of the worst harvests on record followed by this recent work stoppage, has made an already difficult situation even worse.

Given the complex nature of the grain transportation system, even this short disruption in rail transportation will have a lingering effect on service for many weeks to come. Farmers need to see grain moving as quickly as possible to avoid cash flow problems. Furthermore, if grain doesn’t start to move to international markets quickly, Canada risks damaging its reputation as a reliable shipper.

GGC is urging CN to prioritize the movement of grain and propane at this most critical time for farmers right across the country. GGC’s eastern members, many of whom rely on propane to dry their crops are concerned about the length of time it will take to get their dryers up and running again. Farmers in the east have been told it could take weeks to get propane to their farming operations. “We cannot afford to wait any longer to harvest our crops, winter is just around the corner and the grain cannot safely go into storage until it has been dried,” added Mr. Haerle. “We know that we have a narrow window before the very cold weather sets in – we have to get grain moving right away.”

Finally, GGC is calling on government to look ahead and put plans in place to ensure that next time a rail strike is threatened, farmers, and the Canadian economy as a whole, cannot be held hostage. We’ve seen the impact of a week-long rail strike and it simply cannot happen again.

Grain Growers of Canada provides a strong national voice for over 65,000 active and successful grain, oilseed and pulse producers through its 16 provincial, regional and national grower groups. Our mission and mandate are to pursue a policy environment that maximizes global competitiveness and to influence federal policy on behalf of independent Canadian grain farmers and their associations.

Media Contact:
Lindsey Ehman – Manager, Communications & Stakeholder Relations
(o): 613-233-9954 ext. 202
(c): 613-222-2726