By Keith Currie, President, Ontario Federation of Agriculture
OPINION – When CN Rail workers went on strike on Nov. 19, they put the Canadian agriculture sector in jeopardy. CN is Canada’s biggest rail network and the strike of more than 3,000 workers is already impacting the agricultural sector. Canadian farmers are in the middle of one of the toughest harvest seasons and with early winter weather already hitting much of the country, farmers are now contending with issues related to the availability of propane for grain farms and livestock and poultry operations. If the strike is prolonged, the lack of available resources has the potential to create a dire situation for many farmers across Canada.
The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) urges industry, federal officials and agricultural organizations to work together to ensure the government understands the widespread impact this rail strike has on the entire agricultural value chain, especially during the harvest season.
Grain farmers in Ontario depend on shipments of propane to dry down corn and soybean crops, even more so this year in an unseasonably wet growing and harvest season. Without available propane, farmers may have no choice but to leave crops in the field, and their profit prospects along with it.
The impact of the strike will also hit other sectors of the agricultural industry. Not only will it have a negative financial impact on farmers, but it also has the potential to affect the health and welfare of our animals. Livestock and poultry operations depend on the delivery of propane to heat their barns. Without this energy source, animal health and welfare becomes a serious risk as the temperature drops and the days get colder and shorter.
We know the new Liberal federal government is not returning to Parliament Hill until early December. But this issue can’t wait. OFA encourages members who are affected by the rail strike, to reach out to their local MP to voice their concern and encourage a fast, effective resolution to this situation.