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Ontario grain farmers say CN Rail strike could devastate industry

Ontario grain farmers are stressed out by the CN Rail workers strike, says the commodity group's chair Markus Haerle. He says farmers rely on trains to deliver propane for grain dryers. But with the ongoing CN strike, that's not happening.

Grain Farmers of Ontario calls on federal government to intervene in CN rail workers strike

Markus Haerle, chair of the Grain Farmers of Ontario, wants the federal government to step in and get the union and CN to find a resolution. (Grain Millers/Facebook)

Grain Farmers in Ontario already anxious by a late planting season, wet harvest and then cold and snow are now worried a strike by CN rail workers will severely damage their already devastating growing season.

The commodity group is now among several industry groups calling on the federal government to end the dispute. About 3,200 conductors, trainpersons and yard workers walked off the job on Tuesday after negotiations on a new contract with the railway were unsuccessful. The workers have been without a contract since July 23.

The rail strike will impact the delivery of propane to farmers, says Grain Farmers of Ontario chair Markus Haerle. Farmers need propane for their grain dryers and get the product to market.

Haerle says farmers can't face any more challenges this season and already need twice as much propane as they would in a normal year. If farmers don't receive propane, the financial impact will trickle down to what consumers pay, he says.

"The consumer will feel a certain degree of impact with that because some of our corn that's being produced in Ontario is being used in the ethanol industry. It's being used in the corn storage facilities and the sugar industries," Haerle said.

"So we're talking about certain impacts that might be downloaded to the consumer at a certain point. Now, is it going to be right away? I doubt it will be. But there will be a financial impact to the consumer."

Haerle fears some of the corn will collapse in the field from the heavy snow. He adds they can't harvest the wet corn because it would lead to would lead to storage and quality issues.

The Grain Farmers of Ontario represent 28,000 barley, corn, oat, soybean, and wheat farmers.

Haerle says the federal government needs to explore all other options for propane delivery to farmers and needs to do so quickly.

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