Grain shortage puts Canada's rail cars on hold

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Grain shortage puts Canada's rail cars on hold

The world needs more grain and Canada has a bin-busting harvest this year - but shippers fear there won't be enough rail cars to transport it all.

According to the Ag Transport Coalition, there were nearly 2,400 outstanding grain-car orders for the nation's two major carriers, Canadian National Railway Co. and Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. That is the worst backlog since flooding blocked access to Vancouver s port in late 2021, stranding wheat and canola in the Prairies.

Wade Sobkowich, executive director of the Western Grain Elevator Association, said Tuesday in a phone interview that we have to make up these orders. We were concerned going into this year and it feels like our concerns are founded. Shippers are worried about the railways ability to haul grain as Canadian farmers harvest the nation's third-biggest wheat crop and 42% more canola than a year ago. Sobkowich said Canadian Pacific has fallen behind orders for three weeks and grain companies will have to defer sales if the trend continues.

The railway supplied more than 6,500 hopper cars and shipped 709,342 metric tons of grain and grain products last week, a 10% increase from a week earlier, spokeswoman Salem Woodrow said in an email.

Jonathan Abecassis, a CN spokesman, said a two-day washout on a section of the railway network disrupted certain supply chains, but the company has resources in place to move anticipated grain volumes over the course of the current crop year, according to an emailed statement.

Canada's harvest rebound comes as world grain supplies have been uncertain after the war in Ukraine. Transport woes are hampering the US crop, as drought is drying up the Mississippi River, resulting in fewer barges to move corn and soybeans.

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