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Grain backlog could last until 2015

2014-02-25 13:20:18

A government minister in Saskatchewan says grain-handling companies have told him it could be well into 2015 before the backlog from shipping this year's bumper crop clears.

Economy Minister Bill Boyd wants Ottawa to immediately oversee talks between grain and rail companies about getting the grain to port.

Boyd led a delegation that met with Canadian National and Canadian Pacific rail officials and he says the railway companies told him they're adding ``thousands more grain cars per week.''

But Boyd says there still need to be agreements, with penalties, for both grain companies and railways to ensure service levels.

Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz says the government is loathe to regulate.

But he says it will not let farmers and market stability be held hostage by unacceptable rail service.

CN uses shorter trains during cold weather to ensure brakes can be used properly, which affects shipment capacity.

Ritz suggests the companies could have been better prepared for winter in Western Canada.

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