Canadian Field Crops Derailed by Freight Shortage

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Disruption in freight transportation of key agricultural commodities across Canada might hinder field crop market access. Total field crop production in western Canada was 70.9 million tonnes in 2017, three percent above the five year average according to the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (USDA FAS). But various factors are slowing down shipments, the largest being high United States (US) freight demand for fracking sand. Extremely cold weather, heavy snowfall, and high field crop delivery demand have also led to train car and crew shortages across western Canada. The two major rail companies, Canada Pacific (CP) and the Canadian National Railway Company (CN), have fallen short of fulfilling deliveries. The Ag Transport Commission (ATC) reports that in fall 2017, only 56 percent of freight car orders were fulfilled by CN.

The current transportation backlog harkens back to the 2013/14 transportation crisis that cost Canadian agricultural producers between $6 million and $8.5 million CAD. This prompted Canada’s Liberal Government to introduce a bill aimed at providing a long term solution titled the Transportation Modernization Act (C-49). The Canadian Parliament has yet to pass C-49, and now due to a worsening freight situation, newly proposed amendments will likely slow down its progress through the Senate. As Canada’s transportation issues unfold, Gro Intelligence can provide subscribers with the information necessary to keep up to date on field crop deliveries.

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