To a farmer who has spent all year prepping the soil, planting the seed, watching it grow and then harvesting the crop, a bin of grain is like gold. In order to cash in, the grain has to be sold and shipped — typically that is done by rail.
For several months, a serious shortage of rail cars has stalled the pay day for farmers.
Gary Stanford with the Alberta Wheat Commission said the backlog of grain is due in part to successful farming.
“Now that technology is helping us to become better farmers and produce more grain, that’s been a challenge for the railways to understand how much more grain there’s going to be.”
Now, Canadian Pacific has announced it has broken an all-time record for the shipment of grain and grain products in the month of October — 2.64 million metric tonnes, to be exact.
The record for biofuels shipped was also set in the month of October.
Stanford said that type of volume is exactly what the industry needs.
“As demand for more grain crops grows from other countries around the world looking for good-quality milling grain, it is important that the railways are able to move that much and we are looking forward to them moving more.”
Stanford said grain commissions across the country are working hard to communicate the importance of beefing up rail service.
He added CP’s record month is promising news, but there is concern the momentum could slow down as rail infrastructure ages.
“There’s a lot of older railway cars that were built 30 or 40 years ago that are going to have to be decommissioned.
“Those are things we keep communicating — that we are going to need new cars to make sure we are going to be able to move this large amount of grain.”
CP said it’s investing in new, high-efficiency hopper cars, with 500 being delivered by the end of this year.