Transport Canada wants feedback from groups on rail transportation policy

The grain industry is gearing up for meetings and submissions on rail transportation. Chief Agricultural Editor Kevin Hursh says it’s a wide-ranging review of grain transportation policy by Transport Canada, from extended inter-switching to maximum revenue entitlement. Transport Canada wants feedback from the Ag Transport Coalition, Western Grain Elevator Association, Canadian Federation of Agriculture, railway companies, among others.

“Whether this will actually result in any changes in the near-term is doubtful because we have a new Transportation Minister (Pablo Rodriguez) in Ottawa, and the current government is also nearing the end of its mandate as far as introducing new legislation,” Hursh said on the SaskAgToday Roundtable. “These sorts of discussions do remain within the bureaucracy of Transport Canada and eventually if they can make sense of it, may manifest themselves in changes in transport policy going forward.”

Hursh has some significant interest in the meetings, as he also holds the title of executive director for the Inland Terminal Association of Canada, which involves four grain companies with significant farmer ownership.

While attending a crop logistics working group through Zoom Friday morning, Hursh learned railways are charging fuel surcharges on grain movement, but it’s “over and above the maximum revenue entitlement that they’re legislated” to charge “based on cost of production.”

“So when fuel gets a little high they tack on this surcharge and its actually getting a significant revenue stream from this fuel surcharge which is over and above the maximum revenue entitlement, so whenever these sorts of things are reviewed I think its useful to look at it,” Hursh added. “Sometimes there’s loopholes and things that need to be changed or needs to be addressed, so that’s one that really stuck out for me.”

And he says he’s only scratching the surface on what’s expected to be discussed.

“The discussion document is some 18 pages of pretty dry reading,” Hursh said with a laugh.

The quotes are excerpts from the fourth episode of the SaskAgToday Roundtable, which can be found on this website and on the 620 CKRM Youtube page.

(With files from CJGX)

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