For Immediate Release
SARM is disappointed with the May 4, 2006, Transport Canada decision to halt the transfer of its grain hopper cars to the Farmer Rail Car Coalition (FRCC) and instead retain ownership of the fleet and maintain the cars via the railways.
Government estimates show that their decision would result in a potential $2 per tonne savings for farmers on car maintenance costs. Upwards of $10 million dollars in payments from railways will be retained as Government of Canada revenue. However, despite the increase in revenues, Transport Canada gives no indication as to how they plan to fund the maintenance and replacement of the fleet.
“The FRCC’s business plan demonstrated that it was possible to use the revenue from the current fleet and upgrade and replace cars at no cost to producers,” says SARM President David Marit. “The obligation now rests with Transport Canada to demonstrate that they can do the same and ensure the cars remain available to move grain while at the same time being both reliable and affordable.”
SARM has been a strong supporter of farmer ownership of the federal hopper cars and the FRCC since 1996. The FRCC and its member organizations represent over 90 per cent of the farmers in Western Canada, which demonstrates that they have producers’ best interests at heart.
Marit says, “Because of the efforts of the FRCC, it was determined that the railways were overcharging for maintenance of the hopper cars for over 20 years. This cost farmers hundreds of millions of dollars.”
For the benefit of farmers, SARM hopes that Transport Canada seriously reconsiders their decision and meets with the FRCC to discuss this issue further.
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