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'We are dependent on rail': Ontario grain farmers feeling the impact of rail stoppage
WOODSTOCK -- Prices of grain products are likely to go up soon in grocery stores, according to one Ontario grain farmer.
“Or the products might just be completely unavailable,” said Armstrong Acres owner Kevin Armstrong.
The Woodstock grain farmer says he and others across the province are feeling the effects of the CN rail stoppage in Eastern Canada after an already tough season.
He adds that the longer it lasts the more it will hurt them and their buyers.
“They’ll be shipping distillers’ grains, which are a by-product of ethanol,” said Armstrong. “They’ll be shipping that across the province and most of that is done by rail.”
It’s currently prep season for grain farmers as the maintain equipment and market grain following a harvest just before Christmas.
In spring, another issue will arise.
“We’ll start to think about putting nitrogen on our fields probably around early to mid-March weather permitting,” said Armstrong. “We need fertilizer to come in because that’s what we’ll be putting on the field.”
Markus Haerle, the Chair of Grain Farmers Ontario, says relief can’t come soon enough.
“We are dependent on rail to get the crops to the market,” he said. “We’re basically stuck to one mode of transportation, the road, and that method of trucking is very costly.”
The Grain Farmers of Ontario called to have rail declared an essential service after the CN Rail strike in December.
“We hope the government will step in soon to resolve this crisis and understand the rail system is a vital part of the infrastructure for grain farmers in Ontario,” said Armstrong.
He adds that it’s not time to panic yet, but that farmers should talk with their suppliers and buyers about alternate transportation to get crops to the market.