Producers Benefit with Modernization to Canadian Transportation Act

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On May 23 the Federal Government’s historic Bill C-49, the Transportation Modernization Act, received Royal Assent, giving Canadian grain farmers a strong, reliable and efficient transportation system. 

Canadian Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacCauley and Transport Minister Marc Garneau understood how important this accountability in the national transportation system is for Canada. Minister Garneau introduced a strong Bill and Parliamentarians supported the amendments recommended by grain farmers.

Hard working middle class grain farmers will benefit from measures in the Bill that increase competition and accountability in rail transportation. These measures include the ability to apply reciprocal penalties, use an alternative railway through Long Haul Inter-switching, as well as increased data transparency, and protection for soybean farmers through inclusion in the Maximum Revenue Entitlement.

“Grain farmers have been waiting years for a legislative fix to Canada’s rail transportation system,” said Jeff Nielsen, President of Grain Growers of Canada (GGC). “Bill C-49 will improve the long-term competitiveness of the grain supply chain and it is welcome news that these measures [have] become law.”

Bill C-49 amends the Act to allow for reciprocal penalties to be levied when railroads – especially the two Capital railroads – under-perform. It also introduces measures to increase competition between the two monopolies. 

"In the past, all the participants in the grain shipping process, except the railroads, were governed by a system of penalties when they did not live up to their contractual agreements," explained Doug Robertson, President, Western Barley Growers Association (WBGA). 

"If farmers didn't deliver to the elevator when they agreed to, or elevators didn't load grain cars fast enough, or the ports didn't load ships when they agreed to, there were penalties. Only the railways had no performance penalties. This Bill will encourage them to perform as contracted,” he said.

The Western Barley Growers group is encouraged that this legislation will help producers earn back lost market share and restore Canadian farmers’ reputations, as well as clearing the shipping backlog that has plagued the grain industry for a long time.

“We have heard too many times on trade missions from our customers that they like the quality of products Canada has, but have often had to buy from our competitors because of our inability to get those products delivered to them in a reasonable timeframe,” stated Robertson. “It has hurt our reputation to the point that they expect us to be perennially late.”

The WBGA is positive that all shippers will benefit from this legislation, so that no commodity is unfairly favoured with access, and that it encourages the expansion and modernization of the shipping system for the benefit of the Canadian economy.

“It expands the powers of the Canadian Transportation Agency, and adds soybeans as an eligible crop to the Maximum Revenue Entitlement,” said Agriculture Minister MacAulay. “It will deliver new tools to help the industry keep grain moving, such as reciprocal penalties and a better definition of “adequate and suitable” service.”

“We look forward to using these new tools during the next crop year and in the future to help prevent another grain backlog across the Prairies,” said Art Enns, GGC Vice-President. 

In a statement released on the heels of the announcement of Bill C-49 acceptance into legislation, Minister MacAuley, a farmer himself before entering politics, thanked the grain farmers of the West.

“I want to sincerely thank you for the hard work you bring to your job every day and recognize the communities you are helping to support.”

– with files

Posted on:
Monday, May 28, 2018