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Rail capacity hamstrings hay help

EDMONTON, Alta. - The recent hay lotteries in Alberta and Saskatchewan could be expanded by more than 10,000 bales...


EDMONTON, Alta. – The recent hay lotteries in Alberta and Saskatchewan could be expanded by more than 10,000 bales if not for a critical missing link in the supply chain.

Pierre Brodeur, cochairman of the Hay West campaign in Ottawa, says some 200 railway cars are needed to ship hay to western farmers desperate to feed their livestock.

“I’m sure I could fill another 200 railway cars because of the abundance of pledges coming in,” he insists. “That’s how the (hay) crop is and people are so generous. It’s overwhelming. The phone is ringing off the hook.”

Unfortunately, Brodeur says free transportation is the key to getting the support where it’s needed most. He plans to again approach CP and CN Rail, which together have already donated 187 cars. His hope is the Canadian rail giants will cough up more space.

“As we ask for more cars, we sense more resistance,” says Brodeur. “We felt more resistance for the last 100 cars. But the railway companies have been extremely co-operative up to now.”

Brodeur says CN has donated 50 cars: 20 have been assigned to two centres in Ontario, 15 to two centres in Quebec, 10 for New Brunswick and P.E.I., and five for Nova Scotia.

“The people in Belleville, Ont., were assigned 10 cars and they’re all disappointed because they could have filled 30, they say,” he says, for example.

Hay bales stacked at P.E.I. farms should be on their way to drought-stricken farms in Alberta and Saskatchewan as early as next week.

“There’s still some logistics to put together, but the response has been overwhelming in terms of people wanting to move hay, wanting to donate hay,” says Malpeque MP Wayne Easter.

Brodeur said the first 87 cars donated by the railroads have already shipped hay to the West or are currently en route.


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