Create a free Feed & Grain account to continue reading

Canadian grain farmers urge resolution as railway strike looms

The strike could severely impact grain transportation, affecting economic stability and Canada’s reliability as a grain supplier.

Railway Tracks Midwest Pixabay

Grain Growers of Canada (GGC), representing over 65,000 grain farmers, is calling for an urgent resolution to prevent a strike at Canadian National Railway (CN) and Canadian Pacific Kansas City (CPKC) scheduled to begin as early as May 22. Over 95% of railway workers at both companies have voted in favor of strike action, potentially causing significant disruptions to the agricultural sector and broader Canadian economy.

Andre Harpe, Chair of GGC, expressed the critical timing of the dispute: "We’re at a crucial point in the seeding season, and any delay in shipping can directly affect our bottom line and cause substantial economic losses across the agricultural sector."

The potential combined strike at CN and CPKC poses a severe threat to the grain sector, heavily reliant on rail transportation due to Canada’s vast geography. Approximately 94% of Canadian grain, a significant portion destined for export markets, travels by rail. A disruption could overwhelm grain elevators with limited storage capacity, delaying payments and causing financial hardship for growers.

Brendan Phillips, 2nd Vice Chair of GGC, highlighted the broader implications: "We are deeply worried about the impact a strike would have, not just on our operations but on Canada’s reputation as a reliable supplier."

In June 2023, Canada exported over 2.6 million metric tonnes of grain. A strike during a similar period could result in economic losses exceeding $35 million for each day it continues. The GGC emphasizes the dual domestic and international impacts, including storage issues at grain elevators, demurrage at ports and weakening trade relations due to unreliable deliveries.

GGC is advocating for the unions and railway companies to consider the wider consequences of their negotiations. "It’s crucial to find a resolution that keeps our trains moving and our grain flowing to markets around the world," Harpe concluded.

As the mediation period begins, GGC is pushing for a resolution that ensures the stability and continuity of Canada’s grain supply chain, essential for the livelihoods of Canadian grain farmers, the country's food security and the economy.

Page 1 of 71
Next Page