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March 18, 2022

Producers concerned over access to feed with potential rail work stoppage

This week, Canadian Pacific Railway (CP Rail) issued a notice of intention to lockout employees if they are unable to reach a settlement or agree to binding arbitration by March 20. The Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC) has responded with a notice of intention to strike.

Alberta Beef Producers (ABP) continues to urge producers to contact Members of Parliament to express the potentially detrimental impacts a rail work stoppage would have on the beef industry. The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association and National Cattle Feeders’ Association released a joint statement today maintaining that they remain hopeful both parties will work to avoid a stoppage.

“If a solution isn’t reached, both parties must be prepared to move directly to binding arbitration to avoid a stoppage. Or the Canadian government needs to intervene by declaring rail services essential and invoking back to work legislation,” says Mark Lyseng, ABP Government Relations and Policy Lead.

With estimates stating that cattle producers could run out of feed in one to two weeks, there is significant concern that this will quickly become an animal care emergency.

“Our industry has been depending on feed shipments from the U.S. following last year’s drought. We’ve seen widespread feed shortages throughout the province and across the country. Producers are reliant on rail transport for immediate access to feed, and some haven’t been able to secure stock feed reserves,” says Dr. Melanie Wowk, ABP Chair.

“At this point, a work stoppage will cause serious implications to the welfare of our animals.”

Farmers and ranchers in Alberta and Saskatchewan currently feed over one million head of cattle. In Alberta alone, nine to 10 trains of grain per week are required to feed cattle, and over 1,000 trucks would be needed to replace the volume of grain brought by CP trains.

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