Farmer Focus: Richard Crewe, March column

We farm alongside a main trans-Canadian railway line with about 40 trains a day passing. But our delivery of 400t of malt barley keeps getting pushed back.

Our local Viterra elevator, to which we deliver wheat, barley and oats has had no railcars for weeks and is full.

Canadian National Railwayand Canadian Pacific Railway seem to be deliberately reducing their number of grain trains, as they operate under an income cap which is reducing grain hauling priority.

Our elevator has been storing 25 cars (2250t) of milling wheat for a Florida mill for five weeks.

We rely on rail to get grain to export markets, but currently over Western Canada, Viterra is 7000 cars short from CN and 2500 short from CP.

Each railcar holds 90t, so that’s 855,000t of undelivered grain either on farms or stuck in elevators.

Late delivery to the ports has to date cost the Canadian Wheat Board (ultimately farmers) £1m in demurrage costs to ocean shippers since 1 February.

It has been a roller-coaster ride in the Canola market. We sold 100t for April at £322/t and then it reached £370 before crashing to £265 in one week alone.

Our holiday to the Grand Canyon confirmed it as a place of truly amazing grandeur.

Our first glimpse was an hour before sunset and the colours of the different rock layers were spectacular. It is 6000ft deep and you only occasionally spot the Colorado River in the bottom.

Las Vegas is entirely different, 2m people living in the middle of a desert that grows nothing.

If you ignore the gambling (farming is a big enough gamble for me) they put on a real show and it is well worth the trip.

Even Jane wants to return – and for a Presbyterian Scot, that has to be something.

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