New requirements for Canada’s railroads

by World Grain Staff
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FORT SASKATCHEWAN, ALBERTA, CANADA — Canadian Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said on May 30 that he welcomed the Royal Assent of the Fair Rail for Grain Farmers Act (Bill C-30) at an event to mark the coming into force of legislation that identifies clear and achievable measures to get Canada's agricultural products, and other commodities, to market in a predictable and timely way.

Specifically, the Act:

• Requires rail companies to move 1 million tonnes of grain every week through to Aug. 3, extending the volume requirements under the Order in Council that was announced on March 7.
• Gives shippers in the three Prairie provinces more rail options by extending interswitching rights through regulations to 160 kilometers for all commodities.
• Strengthens accountability between shippers and the railways and strengthens farmers' contracts with grain companies.
• Allows shippers to be directly compensated for any expenses they incur as a result of the railways' failure to meet their level of service obligations under the Canada Transportation Act.

The Fair Rail for Grain Farmers Act will bring stability to the sector while discussions with stakeholders continue on building a transportation system that has greater capacity, predictability and accountability for the industry.

The government is also accelerating the review of the Canada Transportation Act, to begin this summer. Furthermore, the railways will be required to provide more detailed information on grain movements, to allow for better oversight and monitoring.

The Act, introduced in Parliament on March 26, includes amendments to the Canada Transportation Act and the Canada Grain Act, and implements additional measures to help Canadian grain get to market quickly and efficiently, while maintaining a world-class system for transporting goods by rail.

This legislation extends the volume requirements, originally introduced by Order in Council (OIC), to Aug. 3, and establishes the authority to set further volume requirements, as needed, beyond that point. The OIC imposed minimum volumes of grain that Canadian National Railway Company and Canadian Pacific Railway Company are required to move each week.

At 76 million tonnes, this year's Western Canadian crop is 50% higher than the 10-year average. This volume is putting significant pressure on Western Canada's grain handling and transportation system. As the government continues to work with farmers to invest in research and innovation, higher yields will continue to be the new reality across Canada.

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