Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz and Transport Minister Lisa Raitt announced the coming into force of a series of important regulations and an Order in Council (OIC) related to the implementation of the Fair Rail for Grain Farmers Act (Bill C-30), which received Royal Assent on May 29.
The Fair Rail for Grain Farmers Act amended the Canada Transportation Act and the Canada Grain Act to ensure that Canada’s rail transportation network moves grain to markets as quickly and efficiently as possible, following a record crop year for Canadian farmers which at 76 million tonnes, was 50 per cent higher than the 10-year average.
The measures, which take effect immediately, include:
• The passing of an OIC, which sets out the minimum grain volumes that Canadian National Railway Company (CN) and Canadian Pacific Railway Company (CP) are each required to move from August 3, 2014 to November 29, 2014.
• Regulations requiring CN and CP to provide additional data on grain movement to better monitor the overall performance of the rail-based supply chain.
• Regulations to clarify the operational terms in a service level agreement that can be arbitrated by the Canadian Transportation Agency, to support commercial negotiations between shippers and railways. These newly defined rail service obligations will increase predictability for all shippers.
• An amendment to the Railway Interswitching Regulations extending the limit for rail interswitching from 30 kilometres to 160 kilometres in the provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba for all commodities to increase competition among railway companies and give shippers access to alternative rail services.
• Regulations to provide farmers with better protection through more accountability for grain companies in contracts.
Since March 7, 2014, when the initial Order in Council, which set out minimum weekly volumes of grain that CN and CP were each required to move was passed, the railways have together moved an average of more than 1 million metric tonnes of grain per week. The regulations passed on August 1 are intended to maximize the amount of grain moved by rail before the winter season and allow the government to re-assess the situation later in the fall, with the longer term goal of returning carryover stocks to normal levels by the end of July 2015.