Canadian Pacific rail work stoppage could hit US agriculture
Canadian Teamsters and CP Rail blamed each other for a work stoppage on March 20 that brought trains to a halt across Canada and interrupted fertilizer and other shipments to and from the United States.
More than 3,000 Canadian Pacific Rail conductors, engineers, train and yard workers represented by the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference are off the job after both sides couldn’t reach a deal by a midnight deadline, AP reported.
Canadian Pacific covers much of the U.S. Midwest and is a large shipper of potash and fertilizer for agriculture. It also carries grain from the U.S. to its northern neighbor for domestic use and exports. The railroad serves the Dakotas, Minnesota, Iowa,
Illinois, Wisconsin, Missouri and other states, according to a map on its investor website. CP also operates in New England and upstate New York, spokesman Patrick Waldron said.
CP says it’s the leading carrier of potash, a plant nutrient used in the production of multiple crops. The company says in investor documents that it carries 70 percent of the potash produced in North America, all from mines in Saskatchewan.
The railroad says it also carries fertilizers, including phosphate, urea, ammonium sulfate, ammonium nitrate and anhydrous ammonia. About half its fertilizer shipments originate from processing plants in Alberta.
CP got 29 percent of its 2020 freight revenue from cross-border shipments between the U.S. and Canada, its investor website said.
A lengthy interruption of fertilizer shipments could hurt U.S. farmers, who are nearing the spring planting season. The work stoppage could also exacerbate existing supply chain bottlenecks in the U.S. and Canada that stem from the COVID-19 pandemic.
U.S. trains were not affected by the work stoppage, but the railroad cannot make shipments between the two nations, Waldron said.
Labor Minister Seamus O’Regan urged the two sides to keep bargaining.
The Canadian and U.S. supply chains also were hit by trucker convoy protests blocking border crossings in February, and now are dealing with the effects, particularly on global fuel supplies, of the Russian invasion in Ukraine and sanctions imposed by the U.S. and its allies.
All the disruptions pushed inflation to its highest level since the early 1980s, with essentials such as food and fuel facing some of the sharpest price hikes.