Many Saskatchewan producers are stressing over their budgets as a rail backlog delays grain shipments.
Federal Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay commented on the backlog Monday, describing it as “an ongoing and unfortunate issue.”
He said he was limited in what he could do about the problem while Bill C-49 continues to be delayed in the Senate. The bill would allow for fines against the railways for failing to deliver rail cars on time.
Todd Lewis, president of the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan, said he agreed with MacAulay that there was little the federal government could do until the bill clear the Senate, where it has sat since last fall.
In the meantime, he said many of the province’s farmers are stuck waiting to get paid for bins full of grain even as they plan for spring seeding.
“In some cases they were supposed to get their money in October and the grain’s still sitting in storage. So it’s a frustrating, stressful time,” Lewis said.
Given the delays in getting their crops sold off, Lewis said quite a few farmers will be borrowing to keep themselves going while they wait.
“There’s things being put in place. But in a lot of cases, this money isn’t for free. It’s costing farmers extra interest charges.”
Lewis said he also worries the situation could affect the competitiveness of Saskatchewan’s farm sector on the world stage.
“There’s lots of countries that produce what we have. Ours is a good product. But if we can’t supply it, it doesn’t make much difference.”
— With files from 650 CKOM’s Daniella Ponticelli and The Canadian Press.