Grain announcement too little, too slow says NDP

The federal government’s plan to move grain is too weak and too slow to help producers with grain still in the bins. Both the amount of grain the two big rail companies will be required to move, and the penalties for not doing it, are too small.

The government announced today it would give the two big rail companies four weeks to get up to 11,000 cars per week – or be fined $100,000 per day. 11,000 cars per week is about the same number of grain cars CP and CN were running in the fall.

“The federal government is treating the two big rail companies with kid gloves – and the Sask. Party government  is patting them on the back for it,” said Cathy Sproule, NDP agriculture critic. “Today’s announcement does nothing to compensate producers that have already lost billions, and the 5,500 cars required from each company only reflects what the rail companies have already promised for spring. This just isn’t good enough to resolve the crisis, and it hasn’t been well received by the producers I’m hearing from today.”

Sproule added that a $100,000 fine is a small price to pay for the massive corporations, but grain sitting unshipped is having a major financial impact on producers, many of whom have bills and loans piling up and no cash flow to buy their inputs for the coming seeding season.

The NDP says about 14,000 cars are required immediately to move grain – the minimum likely necessary to get the grain out of the bins. Adding open-running rights so other rail companies can step in to help could be an important part of the solution.

“The federal government is continuing to fail producers, and the provincial government is failing to stand up to them,” said Sproule. “Now, with four more weeks to drag their feet before meeting a low bar – or pay low penalties – producers need more action, faster to resolve the grain transportation crisis.”

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For more information, contact:
Erin Morrison, NDP caucus