Moving grain south might be option, Brad Wall says
Premier prepares to meet federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz
With much of a record Saskatchewan grain crop still in the bin because of a rail backlog, sending rail cars to the United States is looking more and more like a good idea, Premier Brad Wall says.
Most of Saskatchewan's grain ships west to the Vancouver port, but delays moving CP and CN rail cars have left farmers frustrated.
Shipping grain south wouldn't be a total solution to the grain backlog, but it might help, Wall said.
He said he'd discuss the idea with federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz when he meets with him Thursday.
"You bet I'll raise this with Minister Ritz," Wall said.
"We can at least consider and determine all the logistical impediments, possibly, and remove them to move grain as an option, north and south."
Wall noted there's a company, Ceres Global Ag. Corp., that's already building rail infrastructure at Northgate in the southeast part of the province to ship oil and grain.
But although the idea of shipping grain south is interesting, that doesn't mean the province will spend a lot of money to make it happen, he said.
"We don't want to be owners or we don't want to put the taxpayers dollars into this, but if we can provide some incentives, we're putting it out there that we're interested in that option," he said.
Wall also said Ritz is doing a good job out of the public spotlight meeting with the railways and encouraging them to sign service agreements with grain companies. Service agreements that come with penalties are the right approach to take, he said.
Meanwhile, NDP Opposition leader Cam Broten says the province's talks with the federal government are a case of too little too late.
He thinks the provincial government should be putting more pressure on Ottawa to help solve the transportation problem.
"Speak to any producer that's being held hostage by the two large transportation rail companies — there would not be praise for Mr. Ritz," Broten said.