UPDATE 1-Railways doing 'adequate' job moving huge Canada crop -farm minister

Wed Nov 13, 2013 4:24pm EST
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By Rod Nickel

WINNIPEG, Manitoba Nov 13 (Reuters) - Canada's two main railways, Canadian National Railway Co and Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd, have done an "adequate" job moving this year's record harvests to port, the country's agriculture minister said on Wednesday.

Western Canadian farmers produced the biggest grain and oilseed harvests on record this year, according to government estimates, straining the system of moving crops from farms to ports for export.

Grain handlers have grumbled that railways are not dedicating enough cars for grain, a complaint dismissed by Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz.

"I'm not an apologist for the railways, but I do agree with (Canadian National). Putting more cars on the freeway at rush hour doesn't make it more efficient," Ritz told reporters in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

He said the growing volume of oil moving by rail could become a problem for farmers and grain handlers by displacing crop shipments, but that it was not yet an issue.

Canada is the world's second-largest wheat exporting country, and the top shipper of canola. Richardson International, Viterra and Cargill Ltd are its largest grain handlers.

"We've moved record amounts of grain in the middle of a record harvest in Canada in September and October," CP Rail Chief Operating Officer Keith Creel said in webcast comments from a Goldman Sachs investor conference in Boston.   Continued...