Farmers say CP strike will impact spring plant just as world needs Ontario grains

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File Photo - Wheat harvest in 2017

 

Ontario’s farmers are ringing the alarm bells about the war in Ukraine and the CP Rail Strike.

Friday, the Grain Farmers of Ontario, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture and the Ontario Agri-Business Association met with federal and provincial officials to talk about the crisis in Ukraine. The country and Russia, which invaded Ukraine Feb. 24, are the among the largest grain producers in the world. They say the supply chain is being interrupted by the war and that’s forecast to lead to a spike in food prices between eight and 22 percent over the coming months, and, they say, many agriculture economists are predicting famine in several African countries within the next 18 months.

“It is vitally important that Ontario find ways to maximize its production of livestock feed and grain in the 2022 growing season, which will also require strategies to manage the shortfall in fertilizer that is expected to materialize because of sanctions against Russia,” the organizations said in a news release adding the next few weeks will be critical in dealing with the coming crisis.

On top of that, the industry is now dealing with commercial transportation problems. CP Rail is on strike and the Grain Farmers of Ontario is urging the sides to restore rail operations immediately.

“Farmers have a limited growing season and any disruption to transportation of important inputs will mean we don’t get the seed in the ground with the nutrients that the seed needs to grow and ultimately we will lose out on production. Lower production on the farm means less food in the system here at home and less to help those worldwide that will desperately need our help,” says Brendan Byrne, the chair of GFO.

“The tragic consequences of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine are creating great concern and uncertainty heading into this year’s planting season. Suppliers are facing several potential obstacles that could prove to be very disruptive for farmers. Canada’s food system has already endured supply chain challenges due to the pandemic, and now we must prepare and adjust for global fertilizer supply shortages as well a CP Rail labour disruption, just weeks before planting. The situation is dire and needs immediate attention,” adds Russel Hurst of the Agri-Business association.

The groups have been meeting with both federal and provincial officials hoping for help to deal with supply shortages and to end the CP strike.