Cramer: Canada issues conflicting responses to concerns about railway fines
FARGO, N.D. -- U.S. Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., says he's concerned about conflicting responses from the Canadian government about the impacts of fines on Canadian railroads for failing to meet grain quotas, and the impact on U.S. farmers who have...
FARGO, N.D. -- U.S. Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., says he's concerned about conflicting responses from the Canadian government about the impacts of fines on Canadian railroads for failing to meet grain quotas, and the impact on U.S. farmers who have seen tardy service.
The Canadian government had said Canadian National and Canadian Pacific railways had to move a minimum of 536,250 metric tons of grain a week for a period ending Nov. 29, 2014.
On Aug. 21, Cramer sent a letter to Gary Doer, Canadian Ambassador to the U.S., asking for details on whether fines have been imposed for late deliveries.
Doer, in a letter dated Sept. 15 but delivered electronically Sept. 25, told Cramer there wasn't anything to worry about.
"To date, the railways have met or exceeded required volumes on a weekly basis, demonstrating the requirements are achievable," the letter said.
On Sept. 17, the Canadian government announced fines against CN for failing to meet its quota, Cramer noted.
Cramer told Agweek on Sept. 25 that he finds the mixed signals "curious" and says if CP hasn't been fined, it's "more disturbing" because it's an indication the railroad has indeed "prioritized" because of the threat of fines, "meaning that American customers are secondary."
Cramer says he's been in contact with the Surface Transportation Board about the issue, but has also inquired with the U.S. Trade Office, about whether the conflicting responses might be some violation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Cramer says he isn't looking for U.S. retaliation, but some "reciprocal policy," or -- even better -- Canada withdrawing the fines.