A working group formed to improve grain transportation will do double duty keeping an eye out for problems after the Canadian Wheat Board loses its monopoly Aug. 1, 2012.
While (the Crops Logistics Working Group is) a forum for all crop stakeholders to contribute to the general rail facilitation process it will also be able to address any transportation and supply chain issues that may arise from the transition to marketing freedom, Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz told the Red Deer Chamber of Commerce Nov. 8. The bottom line we want to ensure that the agricultural sector is well positioned to capture any efficiencies and all the opportunities throughout the full value chain.
The working group idea comes out of the Rail Freight Service Review process that reported earlier this year.
We must ensure that all players have the access to rail service they need to continue to provide a competitive option for farmers, Ritz said.
Alberta MLA Jim Dinning has been hired by Ottawa to lead the process for developing a template service agreement grain shippers can use with the railways, Ritz said. That work should be completed in six months. The government will then table legislation so shippers can implement those agreements with the railways promoting more predictable and efficient service, Ritz said.
The Crop Logistics Working Group will be co-chaired by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Deputy Minister John Knubley and Gordon Bacon, chief executive officer of Pulse Canada.
The following organizations make up the working group: Canadian Grain Commission, Grain Growers of Canada, Canadian Wheat Board, Canadian Special Crops Association, Pulse Canada, Canadian Canola Growers Association, Keystone Agricultural Producers (KAP), Producer Car Shippers of Canada, Saskatchewan Shortline Railway Association, Western Grain Elevator Association, Inland Terminal Association of Canada, Alberta Barley Commission and Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities.
This is an opportunity for farmers and other industry stakeholders to have input into the process and identify our specific concerns and needs, KAP president Doug Chorney said in a release. We are pleased to see that the Producer Car Association and Shortline Rail Association are involved because we need to ensure that investments made by farmers in short lines and the producer car business model remain viable in the future.
Wheat board president and CEO Ian White will represent the board on the working group.
Some farmers and the wheat board have raised concerns about getting access to grain export terminals in an open market, but Ritz told the Calgary Chamber of Commerce Nov. 9 that competition will ensure access.
They need volume and they ve gone on record saying they will offer access to ensure they receive it, he said.
Competition will also ensure producer cars and short line railways continue to be viable, Ritz added.
In an open market producer car shippers and short line rail will now be able to make commercial arrangements with grain companies or a new voluntary board to market and move their grain, he said. Short line railways are expecting some adjustments as they will have more options of marketing partners for the grain volume they can attract from producers along their lines.
We must ensure that all players have the access to rail service they need to continue to provide a competitive option for farmers.