Canada’s global reputation is once again on the line as the St. Lawrence Seaway strike continues to kibosh the movement of grain and other agricultural products along the St. Lawrence River.
By Andrew Joseph, Farms.com; Image by demosg from Pixabay
Since 350 workers at the St. Lawrence Seaway went on strike this past Sunday, October 22, 2023, Canadian grain and other commodities have been stuck in limbo, unable to be transported to global customers.
At the heart of the strike is the worker union Unifor, seeking a wage increase from the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp. that they say is akin to what the auto sector has.
Workers from St. Catherines, Ontario, to Montreal, Québec, are being affected, but so are multiple economic sectors.
Along with grain and other agricultural products, the commodities being affected by the St. Lawrence Seaway strike include iron, steel, mining products, cement and construction materials, as well as oil and petroleum.
On Thursday, October 26, 2023, Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Québec Premiere François Legault issued a joint statement.
“The labour disruption that has closed the St. Lawrence Seaway is risking significant harm to our economies. Nearly $17 billion in goods were transported through this vital trade corridor last year alone,” read the statement.
A mediator will meet with both parties today (October 27, 2023) to try and find a middle ground to end the strike as quickly as possible.
Moe Agostino, the Farms.com Risk Management Chief Commodity Strategist, is concerned that the strike will greatly impact Canada’s ag sector.
“The economic stakes are high, and farmers want to avert what happened in the BC port strike that happened earlier this year.
“Farmers need to harvest their crops, and supply chains need to be protected and guaranteed."
He continued: “Farmers need to move soybeans to make room for the corn harvest. The longer the corn stays in the field, the higher the chances it will rot with vom, which is more prevalent this year.”
Vom (Vomitoxin), aka Deoxynivalenol (DON), is a fungus that can, if ingested, cause vomiting in cattle. Considering that a fair share of the corn is for cattle feed…
Summed up Agostino, “The clock is ticking for a resolution and to harvest the Ontario corn crop with only 65 days before the Seaway shuts down until spring.”