This just in — the railways won’t move Western Canada’s entire wheat crop off the combine this fall.
“To use a cliché in building the church for Easter Sunday, there’s a reality that it’s a seasonal business and we’re responsive on a seasonal basis to the business,” Steve Whitney, CP Rail’s vice-president of marketing and sales, agribusiness and market development said April 16 at the Canada Grains Council’s 43rd annual meeting in Winnipeg.
“We move more grain at certain times of the year than we do at other times of the year. But we have to be realistic in terms of the overall capabilities of the supply chain to respond to a peak that might be two months.”
Whitney was responding to a question from Cherilyn Nagel, past president of the Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association. Nagel, who farms 10,000 acres with her husband at Mossbank, Sask., said she would prefer to deliver their entire crop off the combine rather than delivering throughout the crop year.
“We’re kind of looking for real good service right off the combine,” Nagel said, asking if CP Rail will add more cars to accommodate it.
“No,” said Whitney, sparking laughter around the room.
“I hear what you’re saying,” he said “We intend to deliver real good service and we are delivering real good service.”
CP Rail has 12,000 grain hopper cars, he added.
“Going out and getting another hopper so I can make that one or two extra trips in one month of the year just isn’t a viable business investment.
“I’m not saying I have to have a hopper car every day, every week, 12 months of the year, but I can’t build to take the entire crop when it comes off the combine.
“We have to make money.”
Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said earlier this year when the wheat board’s sale monopoly ends, farmers can deliver all their wheat off the combine.