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BC Flooding Slowing Grain Movement

Flooding in BC is impacting grain movement.

Wade Sobkowich is executive director of the Western Grain Elevator Association.

"It's a complete halt of the movement of traffic between the Fraser Valley and Vancouver," he said. "That includes all grain shipments, and not just grain, other commodities and container imports as well. That's a significant thing. What it means for grain is that we have a number of railcars, I'm hearing about 1,000 railcars...sitting on track waiting to get through into Vancouver. That has a cascading affect on either side of the supply chain. You have vessels that are in Vancouver ready to load and you have other grain that's in the country elevator system that won't be able to move until the tracks are opened up again."

Sobkowich says the one silver lining is that there hasn't been a significant backlog this year, so there is a little bit of breathing room, compared to previous years. He adds the longer the delay goes on, the more significant the impact will be in terms of vessel demurrage and contract extension penalties.

Farmer deliveries could also be impacted if the delays continue.

"It just depends on how long it takes," said Sobkowich. "We have our faith in the railways, and they're working very hard, we know, to get their assessments done and begin the rebuild or repair of those lines, both CN and CP. That's our Plan A, allow the railways to do their work and give them the time that they need to do that and try and get things opening up again. It depends on how long we're down. If we're down a couple of days, probably it won't have too much of an impact. If we're down a couple of weeks, that's when farmer deliveries start having to be rescheduled and it backs things up both from a logistics point of view and as it pertains to future sales programs."

Sobkowich says the Port of Thunder Bay is not really an option because grain companies sell six or nine months ahead of time and can't turn on a dime. He adds shipping also wouldn't line up with where the grain is headed.

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