'Losing crop as we speak': grain farmers call for end to CN Rail strike
OTTAWA — Grain farmers in Ontario and Quebec say a prolonged strike by CN Rail workers could have a devastating impact on their businesses.
“All operation on the farm has stopped,” said Markus Haerle who runs a farm in St-Isidore and is also the chair of the Grain Farmers of Ontario. “We cannot harvest anything, we’re losing crop as we speak.”
The Grain Farmers of Ontario and the Grain Growers of Quebec say they want to meet immediately with Transport Minister Marc Garneau and Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau.
The problem isn’t just the shipping of crops, but deliveries of propane that they need to power their crop dryers.
“Our farmers need propane to dry their corn as it comes off the field,” President of the Grain Growers of Quebec, Christian Overbeek said in a press release.
The GFO says it’s been a difficult season for farmers, with wet weather and an early cold snap. They fear if the strike continues it could lead to significant losses.
3,200 CN Rail workers walked off the job Tuesday morning, after a deal could not be reached between CN and the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference by the midnight deadline. The workers have been without a deal since July.
Despite growing pressure for the federal government to intervene, Garneau said Thursday he believes collective bargaining is the best route.
“We are making both sides very aware of the impact this is having on Canadians…we are encouraging both sides to keep talking. We believe this is the best way to do it and the quickest way to do it,” Garneau said.
Sylvain Charlebois, the dean of Dalhousie University’s Faculty of Management told Newstalk 580 CFRA’s The Morning Rush with Bill Carroll a lengthy strike will eventually impact consumers.
“If this disruption lasts for a few days, we probably won’t notice, but it if it lasts more than a couple of weeks, you may start seeing some empty shelves for certain products.”
With files from The Canadian Press