Proposed transportation legislation gets thumbs up from grain industry

Photo: File/Allan Dawson

It might feel like Christmas came early for grain grower organizations, who have long been calling for reform of grain transportation regulations.

The Federal government has promised to introduce legislation in early 2017 that is going to check some items off their wish list.

Transport Minister Marc Garneau unveiled the federal government’s plans in a speech in Montreal Nov. 2, and said the upcoming legislation will allow reciprocal penalties between rail companies and their customers, will better define ‘adequate and suitable’ service in the Canada Transportation Act, and will make is easier and quicker to get the Canadian Transportation Agency to make a decision on issues.

Lawrence MacAulay, the federal agriculture minister, talked up the move on a trade mission to China.

“A more efficient rail freight system to reliably move our goods to global markets will help farmers, shippers and railways to generate growth for the Canadian economy,” MacAulay said.

The government will also address the future of extended interswitching limits and the Maximum Revenue Entitlement in early 2017, the announcement promised.

A number of grain industry groups have responded positively to the announcement. Cereals Canada said the proposed legislation would give shippers tools to hold railways accountable and clarify what responsibilities a railway has to a shipper.

“The grain, oilseed and special crops industries have been united in our call for measures that will help ensure railway accountability for performance,” Dahl said. The policy will provide that accountability when enacted in legislation.”

Dahl added that because the grain industry is captive to monopoly carriers, legislation is necessary to balance market power.

The Grain Growers of Canada also chimed in to note its approval of the government’s promised new direction. The group noted the grain industry had worked long and hard to ensure the government understood the need for action was urgent. GGC said the proposed measures demonstrate the government did get the message, but added the next step will be getting the legislation passed quickly.

“Canada’s grain farmers rely on efficient and competitive rail service to deliver products to markets all around the world”, GGC Vice President Jeff Nielsen said. “I urge the Minister to ensure that the required legislation is passed and in place for the 2017-2018 crop year.”

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