Ahead of spring seeding and the potential rail strike by CP Rail employees on April 21, the most recent week 37 data from the Canadian Grain Commission for the week-ending April 15 shows country elevator space improving for the fourth straight week from the critically tight levels reached in past weeks due to the railway failures faced over the winter months.
Primary elevator stocks were reported at 4.033 million metric tons at the end of week 37, which is down for the fourth straight week and the lowest stocks reported since week 27. Stocks reached their highest level of 4.3993 mmt in week 31, which reflected 91.3% of the estimated working capacity as utilized by Quorum Corporation in their Weekly Performance Update.
Since week 31, stocks in Manitoba have fallen by 5.8% to 879,400 metric tons, higher than reported in the week prior. Stocks in Saskatchewan have fallen by 11.2% since week 31, having dropped in the past four weeks to 2.0089 mmt. Over the same period, stocks in Alberta fell by 4.6% to 1.1176 mmt, having fallen over the past three weeks.
In comparison to the five-year average for this week, total week 37 primary stocks are 23.9% higher than the five-year average. Stocks in Saskatchewan are 21% higher than the five-year average, while stocks in Alberta are close to 25% higher than the five-year average and in Manitoba are 31% higher than the five-year average. Emphasis on deliveries has perhaps been placed on provinces closest to the ports on the West Coast or Thunder Bay.
The potential for a CP Rail strike this weekend will lead to increased congestion on the prairies and more variability in pricing from location to location, depending on the rail line servicing the point and available space. Producer groups are already calling on the government to be prepared to use tools at their disposal to end this strike should it occur. At the same time, Canada's federal government was unwilling to address the shipping backlog over the winter and the current oil pipeline impasse on the west coast. That could lead to a more uncertain outcome for this strike when compared to the last two CP strikes.
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Cliff Jamieson can be reached at email@example.com
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