COVID-19 hasn’t derailed Canadian grain shipping – yet

So far so good.

That’s how Wade Sobkowich, executive director of the Western Grain Elevator Association, describes the impact COVID-19 has had on the grain supply chain.

Wade Sobkowich.
photo: Allan Dawson

“We continue to monitor things,” he said in an interview May 6. “There could come a time when something occurs that puts us in the same boat as some of these other sectors (where COVID-19 has disrupted the supply chain), but for now we’re moving a lot of grain and things are going well for us.”

While the grain chain is working well, making elevators safe for employees and farmers has been complex and challenging, Sobkowich said.

At the same time the demand for grain is steady, he said.

“Our buyers are interested in a certainty of supply, and because we sell on such a long time horizon we’re executing on sales that were made before COVID even hit,” Sobkowich said. “We haven’t seen the same dip in purchasing and consumption as other sectors might have. People can do without fuel for a longer period of time than they can without food. We’re pretty fortunate to be able to move grain as we have been and indeed set records during this COVID crisis.”

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Keeping employees safe, while maintaining rail service vital to Canada’s economy, is a priority for CN Rail, Sean Finn, CN Rails’ executive vice-president of corporate services and chief legal officer, said in an interview May 7.

“I am very pleased and very grateful that our employees are coming to work and doing their job,” he said. “They are proud railroaders. They know their contribution is important.”

About the author

Reporter

Allan Dawson

Allan Dawson is a reporter with the Manitoba Co-operator based near Miami, Man. Covering agriculture since 1980, Dawson has spent most of his career with the Co-operator except for several years with Farmers’ Independent Weekly and before that a Morden-Winkler area radio station.

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