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According to the Canadian government, over the past 10 years, half of all Canadian grain production has been exported, averaging 41 million tonnes per year.
SASKATOON, SASKATCHEWAN, CANADA —As one of the world’s largest exporters of agricultural and agri-food products, Canada needs a transportation system that provides stable and predictable access to international markets.

In April 2016, Marc Garneau, minister of Transport, launched a public
consultation with Canadians, stakeholders, indigenous groups and provinces and territories to hear their views and discuss ideas to develop a long-term agenda for transportation in Canada.  According to the Canadian government, over the past 10 years, half of all Canadian grain production has been exported, averaging 41 million tonnes per year.

Garneau was joined by Lawrence MacAulay, minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, for a roundtable meeting with grain sector representatives on Oct. 20. The roundtable aimed to gather the views of the western agriculture sector on the Canada Transportation Act review and the development of a long-term agenda for transportation in Canada.

“We understand the scope and importance of the grain sector, and that a strong rail-based supply chain system is essential so all Canadian producers and shippers can remain competitive in domestic and international markets,” Garneau said during the meeting on Oct. 20. “The input received today will serve as valuable information as we prepare to address the future of transportation in Canada."

The roundtable was organized to hear additional views from producers, builds on engagement sessions held by Garneau across the country to discuss the future of transportation, and on input received during roundtables MacAulay held with over 20 grain sector groups in Winnipeg and Regina.

“The Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) is pleased to have met today with Transport Minister Marc Garneau and Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay during a consultation session on western grain transportation,” said Ron Bonnett, president of CFA. “We felt that the meeting was a good first step in strengthening relationships between Transport Canada and farm groups. Our views and concerns were made clear, and were echoed by a number of other western grain organizations also in attendance.”

CFA and its members reiterated that it’s imperative to resolve farmer concerns on rail transportation because it is farmers who pay the costs of shipping grain to export positions. It also stressed that a rail costing review is well overdue and that Canada must develop a long-term transportation strategy that functions smoothly with agricultural industry requirements.

“The grain sector is a vital part of Canada’s economy and it relies on an effective transportation system to reach markets around the world,” MacAulay said. “We have had a number of dedicated roundtables in Western Canada to ensure we build a transportation system for the future that will increase the competitiveness of all grain supply chain stakeholders and put more money in the pockets of farmers.”