Big crops causing big headaches

Bruce McFadden has seen the future — and it looks congested.

While Ottawa’s grain-movement edicts have captured headlines, the director of research for Quorum Corp., the federal grain monitor, has been looking at numbers. Big ones.

Stats Canada initially estimated Western Canada’s 2014 harvest at 57 million tonnes, which when combined with carry-over, meant a whopping 73 million tonnes have to be moved. Then the government agency revised the numbers upward, adding another 3.5 million to this year’s harvest.

“That will move up the production to just over 61 million tonnes, which is the second-highest level of production in our history,” said McFadden.

“The pressure is still there in terms of the production, and we have a much higher-than-normal carry-over from the previous year.”

If these large crops are the new norm, it will put a big strain on an already tapped-out grain-handling system.

“With the last two crop years now representing the two highest levels of production that we’ve ever seen, that certainly is a strong indicator that we’re going to see continued increase in the level of production in Western Canada,” said McFadden.

“It poses the question: Do we have sufficient capacity to meet the kind of demands that we’re currently facing and the kind of demands that we expect to see in the future, given that our production has continued to climb?

“That’s a significant concern — that it’s not just an isolated phenomenon tied to the various scenarios that we faced last year.”

About the author

Reporter

Jennifer Blair

Jennifer Blair is a Red Deer-based reporter with a post-secondary education in professional writing and nearly 10 years of experience in corporate communications, policy development, and journalism. She's spent half of her career telling stories about an industry she loves for an audience she admires--the farmers who work every day to build a better agriculture industry in Alberta.

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