Producer cars hit snag on timely delivery

Demand for rail cars by grain producers has reached an all-time high, but it’s unclear how many of them have been delivered.


The Canadian Grain Commission says it has received applications for more than 18,000 producer cars this crop year, which is a record.


Producer cars are rail cars requested by grain growers who plan to fill them themselves and avoid handling and elevation fees.


The previous record for producer car applications was slightly more than 14,000, set in 2011-12.


The record demand this year suggests that an increasing number of farmers view producer cars as an effective and inexpensive way to get grain to market.


The commission has processed 14,000 of the applications and passed them onto the railways. However, it said it doesn’t know how many have been delivered.


“(That information) is not easily obtainable from our side,” said CGC producer car officer Garth Steidl. 


“We really don’t track that information, but yes, I would say that a large percentage of the … cars that we’ve scheduled (haven’t been spotted).” 


The commission is now facing a situation in which a large number of unspotted producer cars may need to be carried forward into the 2014-15 crop year.


Assistant chief commissioner Jim Smolik said the commission is still assessing the situation to determine if unfilled car orders will be carried forward or withdrawn from the system, requiring producers to reapply again in 2014-15.


Producers are already lining up to place producer car orders for the next crop year.


In late March, the grain commission issued a notice informing producer car users that new applications for 2014-15 will not be accepted until further notice.


The commission normally doesn’t begin accepting applications until July for the subsequent crop year.


However, with demand so high and a large number of orders still outstanding, the commission might be forced to reset the system.


Smolik said the new system will probably allow producers to apply in advance for cars that will be delivered in future crop years.