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The Government of Saskatchewan, along with grain producers and customers, are continuing discussions with transportation service providers to prepare for a large crop this season. Despite localized issues, projected yields are expected to be above average for cereal and oilseed crops.
“We are encouraged to see crops across Saskatchewan doing particularly well,” Agriculture Minister Lyle Stewart said. “Getting products to market is critical to our success and, in 2013, we saw the challenges a large crop presented shippers, railways and ports. We don’t want to see a repeat situation this year.”
With improved varieties and agronomic practices, production levels are growing in the province. The need for enhanced transparency and accountability within the grain handling and transportation system has remained a priority since 2013.
There have been numerous requests to find solutions to ensure producers get their products to customers safely, efficiently, reliably and at a fair cost.
“In early July, we wrote the federal government and the two railways to advise of a potential large crop,” Stewart said. “We stressed the importance of ensuring the grain handling and transportation system is prepared to move this year’s crop in a timely and efficient manner.”
“We continue to urge Transport Canada to ensure contingencies are in place should issues arise this season,” Highways and Infrastructure Minister Nancy Heppner said. “In the long term, we want to see changes to The Canada Transportation Act that ensure Saskatchewan businesses are able to move goods reliably and at a competitive price to our international customers, while still ensuring public safety.”
“We hope all parties will step up and do what is necessary to move the crop this year,” Stewart said. “For example, if there is a strike at the Port of Prince Rupert, we encourage the federal government to consider back-to-work legislation to ensure the timely movement of harvest.”
Transportation continues to be a priority for members of the New West Partnership (NWP), with the New West Transportation Infrastructure Summit in 2014 focusing on strengthening collaboration between the supply chain players and building capacity for long-term growth in western Canada.
Since then, the Pacific Gateway Alliance, a NWP working group focusing on performance and market access, has made significant progress to better manage system capacity, including the hosting of a grain transportation workshop in the spring. An open dialogue between producers, shippers and grain transportation service providers is necessary as harvest approaches.
Saskatchewan products are in high demand across the globe and getting goods to their destination on time maintains the province’s credibility and relationship with international customers.