The lack of grain shipments coming out of Saskatchewan is concerning the provinces’ Minister of Agriculture.
Latest numbers show a sharp drop off in supplied hopper car orders, especially from CN, who dropped from 34% down to 29%.
Lyle Stewart held a meeting via teleconference with both CP Rail and CN to talk about this issue, before addressing reporters late Friday afternoon.
He said with CN only meeting their orders five out of the last 23 weeks and CP meeting it 10 out of the last 23, it’s not just the weather affecting the shipments.
“We forcefully made that point with both railways that it’s cold in western Canada in the winter, and that’s not new,” stated Stewart. “However, the stats nowadays, the trains are longer and nowadays, they shorten trains in Alberta before they cross the mountains when the temperature is below minus 20.”
Stewart said the winter plays a role, it can’t be the sole impediment to grain shipments, something he said the companies acknowledged.
However, when it comes down to it, Stewart said it’s simple: Saskatchewan has many trade partners counting on their shipments to arrive in good condition and on time.
“They (trade partners) have not forgotten about the delayed shipments from 2013-14 and they all ask about it, like ‘Can you deliver?'” noted Stewart. “And that’s important. A lot of these countries don’t have a lot of storage infrastructure in country.”
“They rely, sometimes, to feed their people on the timeliness of shipments.”