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26/ April / 2018



AFA Urges Government to Pass Bill C-49 with Amendments


The Alberta Federation of Agriculture (AFA) has joined a number of Canadian farm groups calling on the federal government to move swiftly to stabilize our rail systems by passing Bill C-49 with amendments.  A joint open letter sent today highlights how critical the Senate amendments are in avoiding future backlogs, creating a more competitive business environment and protecting Canada’s reputation as a reliable shipper of quality grain.


“This is the second time in less than five years that farmers across the prairies are unable to get their grain to market,” noted Lynn Jacobson, President of AFA.  “These amendments serve as a good foundation to build the legislation that will ensure this does not happen again.”


In 2013/2014, producers lost more than $6.5 billion thanks to the backlog.  While there is not yet a tally known this time around, rural economies are no doubt feeling the impact as unreliable rail shipping has created cash flow issues for many farmers as they head into spring planting.


“Unfortunately, farmers have no control over shipping delays and the lack of inter-switching means fewer options for getting our grain to market,” said Jacobson.  “We believe that government regulation is critical at this point, giving the CTA authority to take real action on backlogs.”


The transportation of prairie grain by rail is a crucial element to our country’s economy.  As Canada aims to meet a $75 billion export target by 2025, reliable shipping to reach customers is essential.


“When it comes to our rail transportation system in this country, the status quo is not an option,” expressed Jacobson.  “Each day that the government sits idle is another lost opportunity to secure our spot as a global agri-food powerhouse.”




Alberta Federation of Agriculture is Alberta's largest producer funded general farm organization. Whenever decisions are being made thataffect the province's agricultural industry, we're there, providing aneffective voice for Alberta's farmers. For more information on AFA,please visit our website at: www.afaonline.ca



For More Information:

(Mr.) Lynn Jacobson, President at 403-894-5208

Shannon Scofield, Executive Director at 403-789-9151







An open letter asking MPs to pass Bill C-49 with amendments

Dear Members of Parliament:

For the second time in less than five years, grain elevators across the Prairies have been overflowing with quality products that can’t be shipped to customers overseas. Once again, railways were unprepared to carry the available grain to port. If grain doesn’t move, farmers don’t get paid. This leads to a cash-flow crunch and enormous stress due to systemic flaws that are outside farmers’ control. Farm groups estimate that more than 45,000 grain producers have been affected in the last year, either directly or indirectly.


It cannot continue.


How can Canada possibly build on its success as a world-class grain supplier – and meet the government’s target of $75 billion in exports by 2025 – when its rail transportation systems are repeatedly unreliable?


The costs are as mind-boggling as the lost opportunities.


In 2013-2014, a rail backlog cost western grain farmers and the rural economy more than $6.5 billion [1] – a terrible loss to national prosperity overall. Passing Bill C-49, with key amendments, will help to­ resolve the challenges.


The Senate listened to comments from farmers and shippers regarding the original version of Bill C-49 and made amendments to address their concerns. Farm groups feel the amended Bill will help to stabilize our rail systems and provide the confidence needed to grow our international markets.


The amendments give the Canadian Transportation Agency more authority to investigate and to proactively seek solutions that can prevent bottlenecks. They also allow access to “interswitching,” which provides grain companies with more competitive shipping options, leading to efficiencies that will benefit the entire supply chain.


Farmers are encouraged that these amendments will serve as a strong backbone to the legislation, and help avert future backlogs.


Please pass Bill C-49 as amended without further delay.






Ron Bonnett, President, Canadian Federation of Agriculture
Dan Mazier, President, Keystone Agricultural Producers of Manitoba
Todd Lewis, President, Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan
Lynn Jacobson, President, Alberta Federation of Agriculture