Saskatchewan grain farmers had a record crop last year with 2013 marking the third year in a row for exports from the province so why aren’t they celebrating? Grain farmers from across Canada are rallying together over a backlog of bumper crop due to a transportation crisis that threatens farming income, 2014 crops and our economy. Why should this matter to the general consumer public? It’s like an avalanche effect. Grain-handling systems are falling short, meaning grain bins are over-flowing, not making it to markets and foreign buyers are buying elsewhere.
The transportation crisis is at the root of the problem causing a near-standstill. If the grain doesn’t make it to market, the farmers don’t earn an income, last years operating costs supported by lenders are in arrears, future crops are at risk for lack of space and lack of funding, grain prices fall and the economy overall suffers greatly because of a backlog in the Canadian railway transportation system. The railway system is the main transportation system grain farmers rely on in order to get their crops to the market. Farmers and government officials have requested leniency from banks however that doesn’t solve the crisis.
Cue Government Assistance
Government assistance doesn’t always mean financial. In some circumstances when two parties cannot come to an agreement or make any headway, the government may act like a mediator. In this instance the Harper government has stepped in and ordered the Canadian Pacific Railway to move the grain through as a solution to the backlog, fulfill supply and demand and to remain a competitor as a supplier to world markets. Weekly reporting to the government of shipments, grain shipment volume increased and non-compliance penalties of up to $100,000 per day are effective ways to light a fire but does this solve anything?
Overall this is a step in the right direction but some think it’s a little too late; the damage has been done. In the long term, this intervention shows all parts of the system they can be held responsible to ensure a smooth operation.
As a consumer, I ask that you remember the hard work your local farmers put in every day to produce the food you bring to your table whether it’s a grain product, produce or meat. Educate yourself on the gears to our economy that keep it running smooth.
This post is not sponsored. This is 100% my own opinion and perspective of a farmer.