Fair Rail Freight Service Act An Important Step Forward

OTTAWA, Dec. 11, 2012 /CNW/ - The Canadian fertilizer industry is encouraged by the Fair Rail Freight Service Act brought forward by the federal government today. This legislation is an important step to ensuring a commercial balance in the transportation system between railways and their freight customers.

Denis Lebel, Minister of Transport Canada, and Gerry Ritz, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, announced the proposed legislation, which addresses the shortcomings of rail freight service in Canada. The bill includes key elements of the railway service solution that the Canadian Fertilizer Institute (CFI) has been advocating. Specifically, the bill will backstop the commercial process by providing rail customers with the right to commercially negotiate Service Level Agreements.  In addition, it will provide a dispute resolution mechanism to achieve and enforce these agreements.

While CFI supports the thrust of the legislation, we need to assess its details.  It is our understanding that the proposed legislation covers all rail traffic including traffic destined for the United States. We encourage the Government to clarify that this legislation covers all rail shipments to the United States, the number one market for Canadian fertilizer. Our industry wants to ensure that the legislation will protect rail customers that rely on the railways to ship their goods to the United States as well as those who ship only within Canada.

"The federal government has taken an important step towards balancing the commercial relationships between railways and their freight customers," said Roger Larson, President of CFI. "Fertilizer companies have commitments to their customers not only in Canada, but the United States and around the world. Railway service cannot continue to be the weak link in Canada's export pipeline."

The Canadian fertilizer industry is globally competitive with our high quality product in demand all over the world. In 2010-11, CFI members produced over 25 million metric tonnes of fertilizer, and exported 80 per cent of that production to over 60 countries worldwide. Our members rely on a strong supply chain to move product from our manufacturing facilities, primarily by railways, through marine and U.S. ports and around the globe. We deliver plant nutrients to our farmer customers who are also competing in global markets and helping to feed the growing world population. Whether they are located in eastern Canada or eastern Asia, our product needs to move in a timely and efficient manner.

CFI looks forward to building stronger partnerships with the railways and the Government so farmers can be assured that they will get the fertilizer they need in time for each growing season. CFI has been active in the Federal Government's Rail Freight Service Review since 2008 and has been a leading advocate of commercial dispute resolution as the preferred means of resolving rate and service disputes between CFI members and the railways since 2006.

For more information on CFI's Railway Customer Charter that would guarantee shippers essential rights visit: www.cfi.ca

The Canadian Fertilizer Institute is an industry association representing manufacturers, wholesale and retail distributors of nitrogen, phosphate, potash and sulphur fertilizers.  Our mission is to be the unified voice of the Canadian fertilizer industry by promoting the responsible, sustainable and safe production, distribution and use of fertilizers.  Our industry employs 12,000 Canadians and contributes $12 billion annually to Canada's economy.  Our products contribute to the supply of safe, nutritious food in Canada and around the world.

SOURCE: Canadian Fertilizer Institute

For further information:

MEDIA CONTACT:
Cassandra Cotton: 613-786-3029
ccotton@cfi.ca