Farm groups repeat demand for Bill C-49 passage

Canadian farmers have once again urged passage of Bill C-49, as amended, by the House of Commons as soon as possible.

In an open letter to members of Parliament April 26, the Canadian Federation of Agriculture and its prairie members said farmers are struggling with cash flow because not enough grain has moved.

“Farm groups estimate that more than 45,000 grain producers have been affected in the last year, either directly or indirectly,” said the letter.

“It cannot continue.”

The organizations said Canada can’t build on its reputation as a supplier of top quality grain or meet the government’s export target of $75 billion by 2025 with unreliable transportation systems.

Keystone Agricultural Producers, the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan and the Alberta Federation of Agriculture said the Senate listened to farmers and shippers when making amendments, and Bill C-49 should be passed without further delay.

The amendments include expanded interswitching and giving the Canadian Transportation Agency more power to investigate potential backlogs.

The bill went back to the Commons from the Senate in late March but has yet to appear on the order paper.

In the Senate agriculture committee meeting April 26, Canadian Oilseed Processors Association executive director Chris Vervaet said transportation is a key challenge.

The committee is studying how the value-added sector could be more competitive.

Vervaet said about 80 percent of value-added products move by rail to markets.

“Inconsistent rail service is unfortunately a chronic issue in Canada, which continues to impact our ability to service customers in a reliable and timely fashion,” he told the committee.

He said legislation and regulation are necessary because of a lack of rail competition.

COPA supports the passage of Bill C-49 as amended, he said, adding that the government should also get involved as necessary to stop any rail traffic disruption because of labour issues.

Contact karen.briere@producer.com

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