Much-needed grain from Canada is piling up amid a rail bottleneck | So Good News


The world’s sorey needs more grain, and Canada has a crop full of crates this year — but shippers fear there aren’t enough railcars to carry it all.

There were nearly 2,400 outstanding grain car orders for the country’s two major carriers, Canadian National Railway Co. and Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd., according to the latest data from the Ag Transport Coalition. It’s the worst backlog since flooding blocked access to Vancouver’s port in late 2021, stranding wheat and canola on the prairies.

“We have to settle these orders,” Wade Sobkowich, executive director of the Winnipeg-based Western Grain Elevator Association, said Tuesday in a phone interview. “We were worried going into this year and unfortunately it feels like our worries are founded.”

Shippers are worried about rail’s ability to carry grain as Canadian farmers harvest the country’s third-largest wheat crop on record and 42 percent more canola than a year ago. Sobkowich said Canadian Pacific has fallen behind orders for three weeks and grain companies will have to delay sales if the trend continues.

“CP is working diligently with grain customers,” spokeswoman Salem Woodrow said in an email, noting that the railroad delivered more than 6,500 hopper cars last week and shipped 709,342 tons of grain and grain products, a 10 percent increase from a week earlier.

CN spokesman Jonathan Abecassis said a two-day washout on part of the rail network disrupted some supply chains, but the company has resources in place to move expected grain volumes during the current crop year, according to an emailed statement.

Canada’s recovery comes as world grain supplies have been uncertain following the war in Ukraine. Transportation issues are also hampering the U.S. crop as the drought dries up the Mississippi River, resulting in fewer barges to move corn and soybeans.


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