In our recent Supply Chain Matters update on Q1 commodity price trending, we noted that the severe winter conditions that have occurred across the U.S. and Canada, coupled with operational disruptions in the placement and logistics of tank and bulk commodity railcars have led to reported disruptions in supply contracts of inbound bulk commodities. Commodity producers have had to shift to more expensive trucking options to accommodate food production line scheduling.

The government of Canada is now taking more extreme action against its national rail carriers with proposed legislation that would allow bulk commodity producers to switch between Canadian National Railway (CN) and Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) for flexibilities in getting commodity products to designated supply chain customers. 

According to reports, Canada’s current conservative government is getting much more concerned about shipment bottlenecks, especially when it concerns commodity shipments to existing and newer export markets, including the United States. According to a report published by the Wall Street Journal, 150 grain elevators would have access to both rail lines under the proposed legislation.  Currently only 14 grain elevators have such access. For its part, the CEO of CN is quoted as indicated that this legislation will have little impact when considering the extreme winter weather conditions seen this year across North America.

No doubt, the debates concerning government vs. private industry solutions to logistics bottlenecks will continue. In the end, it’s always a demand and supply imbalance problem that needs a solution.