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Action needed as grain backlog grows, Saskatchewan premier urges Feds

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says the federal government "needs to take action now", while Prairie farmers warn that a growing grain backlog on many farms in Western Canada is causing severe cash flow shortages.

"Saskatchewan farmers are the key to our (provincial) economy," Moe tweeted late on Friday and added: "We can not get grain in a train to the port, even if SK Minister (Lyle) Stewart & (David) Marit contacted railway companies to solve this. "

Western Canadian grain farmers said this week in Ottawa that bad rail services are causing a disaster "On the farm across the street from the Prairies, where producers are able to pay their bills because they have not been able to supply grain to the local lifts.

'We need action,' the Canadian Agriculture Federation President Ron Bonnett said on Thursday. "We will have farmers who struggle to pay their bills and families who suffer because of government and railways."

Millions of tons of grain was stranded on farms and in local grain elevators for months during the corn crisis 2013-2014. The deficit is estimated to have cost the Western Canadian economy up to $ 8 billion.

The current backlog reflects the crisis of 2013-14, the Saskatchewan President Todd Lewis's Association of Agriculture told the reporters. "This year's shipping season was a disaster," Lewis said. "We can not afford a new one next year."

However, the Saskatchewan Minister of Agriculture, Lyle Stewart, was not yet ready to sign that link. Stewart, who was agriculture minister during the last arrears, told reporters in Regina Friday that the current delays "are not near the crisis point in 13-14, but it is disappointing."

"We had a pretty sharp conversation with both railways," said Stewart after calling CN and CP to discuss grain transport. The minister said that both railways are left behind in cereal transports to spring, a time "when it is fairly difficult to move grain from farms".

"The railways are both convinced that by the end of the harvest year there will be no backlog, they are now thinking better weather, they can put the heat on and move grain," he said, adding that he " with force "the railways said that" it is cold in Western Canada and that is not new. "

Western Canadian farm groups have said they want Ottawa to develop a plan to keep grain moving within the next two weeks. to get. That plan, according to farmers, should also include a decision similar to a decision issued in 2014 by the then Harper government that required Canadian national and Canadian Pacific to move a minimum volume of grain per week. The failure risked fines of up to $ 100,000 per week.

Moe said Friday not whether a federal action should include an order participation.

Agricultural Minister Lawrence MacAulay told reporters Wednesday that such action was not considered at this time. MacAulay, who discussed service levels with CN this week, called the current problems with grain movements in Western Canada seriously & # 39;

"We will continue to closely monitor the transportation of grain and keep in regular contact with the railway companies and grain farmers," the MacAulay iPolitics told in a statement Friday. MacAulay is in Japan and South Korea for a trade mission of a week long.

Meanwhile, Transport Minister Marc Garneau said Friday that the railways "will transfer significant quantities of Western Canadian grain this year, in volumes comparable to last year and the previous five years."

New figures released Friday by the Ag Transport Coalition found CN and CP delivered a combined 32 percent of the hopper cars ordered in week 30 of this year, "the worst order delivery performance so far during the corn year 2017-18."

"In week 30 the performance of order processing bad in all corridors without a gang on the CN received more than 23 percent of the ordered cars and only one – Vancouver – on CP who received more than 40 percent of the ordered car & # 39; s, "the report reads.

CN Vice President Janet Drysdale disputes the Ag Transport Coalition numbers on Friday, saying that the report does not reflect the fact that the railroad is the current we are catching up.

"We have acknowledged that we are late and we do not meet the current weekly orders because we still fulfill orders from the previous week," she told iPolitics.

Grain transport was not The only agricultural problem that Moe had tweeted on Friday. The prime minister of Saskatchewan also urged the federal government to deal with an ongoing police trade dispute with India, including import tariffs on goods such as chick peas.

Opposition MPs hammered the Trudeau government Friday after it was announced New Delhi had an import rate on chickpeas from 40 percent to 60 percent several days after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau returned from his controversial state visit to India.

"Mr Speaker, India, with more than 1.2 billion people, offers Canada the greatest potential for export growth, but unfortunately that potential and chance is damaged by the incompetence of the prime minister," conservative landlord Candice Bergen said MPs during the Friday.

"Last night, India's job on Canadian chickpeas increased to 60%, a clear signal that India is understandably upset, and Canadian chickpea producers are the first to pay the price," she said. "The prime minister has damaged our relationship with India, what is he going to do to solve this mess?"

Pulse Canada, the national farm group for Canadian pulselers, said Friday that the agricultural and Agri-Food Canada officials have told that the last tariff increase is specific to the variety. 19659002] Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, said the farm group, told them that an important variety grown in Canada (Khabuli Chana) is exempt from the increase. The rate for those chickpeas, which account for 95 percent of Canadian production, remains at 40 percent.

iPolitics & # 39; asked Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada for exemption. The department has not yet responded.

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