Producers got their chance to meet with railway executives to discuss the grain backlog and how it can be avoided in the future.
Sean Finn, the chief operating officer for CN Rail, met with leaders in the Saskatchewan agricultural and business communities on Tuesday. Finn had previously apologized on behalf of the railway company for the backlog, saying they were unprepared and want to ensure it doesn’t happen in the future.
The backlog has caused many headaches for farmers, with a portion of their product unable to make it to market.
Todd Lewis farms near Gray, Sask. and is the president of the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan. He was at the meeting and said they agreed it was important there was a common set of data between all companies involved.
He said producers were also frustrated because they recognized there could be a problem in December and there was a lag in anything being done about it.
“We’re not happy with what happened this year,” Lewis said.
Lewis appreciated that CN Rail was coming out to keep communication open between the company and the producers but said they can’t afford to have a repeat of this anytime in the near future.
“We’re losing customer base and international markets aren’t very forgiving sometimes if we can’t supply what we said we will when we said we will.”
He said Saskatchewan’s economy relies on ensuring exports, including potash and oil, make it out to the markets.
John Hopkins, CEO of the Regina Chamber of Commerce, also met with Finn, saying the meeting was positive.
He said CN Rail indicated they would back off a bit on the oil side to help get grain and other crops to customers.
Hopkins believed that getting the Kinder Morgan pipeline built will also help relieve the stress on railways and help ensure a backlog is avoided in the future.
CN Rail also met with other producer organizations including the Canola Commission.