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Saskatchewan sends cabinet ministers to meet with companies about grain backlog

REGINA – Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall has appointed a delegation to meet with grain companies in the hopes of clearing up a grain backlog.

Agriculture Minister Lyle Stewart, Economy Minister Bill Boyd, Highways and Infrastructure Minister Don McMorris and MLA Scott Moe are to meet with the companies this week.

They plan to talk about the challenges the businesses face in moving grain and come up with potential solutions.

There will also be meetings with rail companies to talk about measures to clear up the backlog, including adding more crews, cars and locomotive capacity.

The province says if the situation doesn’t improve, it will recommend potential legislative action to ensure stakeholders are held accountable and encourage the movement of grain.

Farmers have been frustrated about a huge backlog of wheat and other crops building up outside jammed grain elevators.

The backlog stems, in part, from problems moving a record harvest and from winter weather.

“This grain movement backlog is a very serious situation for the entire province and it is a high priority for our government,” Wall said Wednesday.

“The delays in moving grain have led to lower prices for our producers at the farmgate and are harming our reputation as a reliable supplier of agriculture products throughout the world. We want every possible avenue explored to ensure our producers have the ability to market and deliver their grain in a timely manner.”

The Saskatchewan Agriculture department has said the grain backlog could result in financial damages “calculated in the billions of dollars.”

Last week, federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said he is acting on the advice from a crop logistics working group to change grain monitoring so rail companies will have to report monthly on their performance. Right now, companies report every three months.