When the flood waters come, grain stops moving — and that means farmers better hurry if they want to empty some bins and recharge their bank account this spring, industry officials say.
And unlike past floods, the Canadian Wheat Board won’t be overseeing grain movement to ensure there’s plenty of elevator space for those needing to make last-minute deliveries.
In fact, the new CWB has already moved out most of the grain it has contracted in the Red River Valley, an area that provincial flood forecasters predict will see plenty of road closures during the spring melt.
“For us it is different, we have less tonnes than in the past so this is actually happening on a smaller scale for us than previously,” said Mark Dyck, CWB’s logistics director.
“But if farmers do still have grain on contract with us that hasn’t moved and it’s at risk of flood damage, they should contact their local farm business representative and we’ll work with them and the grain company to try and get it delivered as soon as possible.”
That’s the advice of other grain company reps: If you need to move grain and haven’t made arrangements, get on the phone to your elevator right away.
Floods are a challenge to everyone in the system, said Gerald Bryson, Richardson International’s area business manager for southern Manitoba.
“On the producer side and getting grain into the elevator, flooding can affect access to yards, make roads soft, and routes can be affected by bridges being out,” said Bryson.
“The outbound rail is definitely at risk in certain areas, and there are certain lines that will go out of service with excessive flooding.”
For example, previous floods have closed rail lines through Brunkild and Carman, and Canadian Pacific tracks servicing Killarney were shut down in 2011.
But most producers know the flood drill by now, he said.
“You try to move your grain in advance,” said Bryson. “Producers deal quite well with flooding, they’ve either got their storage in good places or they’ve been able to move it.”
Richardson will focus on locations predicted to be out of service for extended periods he said, adding if producers have concerns they should check with their local elevator.
A spokeswoman for Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives said the province will consider lifting spring weight restrictions on roads as the thaw moves closer, so that producers could begin hauling grain and animals if needed.
If producers need advice or assistance in finding temporary locations for livestock they can contact their municipality or the local GO office, she added.