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GOVERNMENT ASSISTING FARMER RAIL CAR COALITION

Released on June 14, 2002

The Saskatchewan government will provide the Farmer Rail Car Coalition

(FRCC) up to $450,000 in funding and in-kind technical support to develop a

business plan, including financing, to buy the federal government's hopper

car fleet.



Saskatchewan Grain Car Corporation chair Mark Wartman today announced the

funding would allow the FRCC to aggressively defend the interests of

Saskatchewan producers and shippers.



"I am pleased to announce this funding for the Farmer Rail Car Coalition to

develop an air-tight business plan to purchase the federal fleet," Wartman

said. "We are delivering on our promise to work with this organization in

its efforts to help farmers save money."



If the acquisition is successful over corporate railroad bids, Saskatchewan

farmers could save over $50 million annually in shipping costs, will have a

voice in any future national transportation-related discussions, and will

have a modern fleet as the coalition is dedicated to fully upgrading the

units.



"This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for farmers and the province is

prepared to offer financial and technical support to make this happen,"

Wartman said. "This funding allows the FRCC to develop a business plan

that will enable farmers to have a real say in the ownership of the hopper

cars."



The rail car coalition was formed in 1996 after the federal government

announced its intention to sell the 13,000 federal hopper cars. The

federal government decided to postpone the sale of the fleet for a five-

year period to allow the railroads' first right of refusal to lapse. The

first right of refusal allowed the railways to match any other bid on the

cars. On June 30th, 2002 the right of refusal will expire.



The province previously provided the rail car coalition with over $250,000

to develop a formal bid for the fleet. As a condition of this additional

funding, the business plan must clearly indicate that FRCC will be self-

sustaining and will not include provincial finance, ownership or operating

of the rail car fleet. Both the $250,000 and $450,000 contributions must

be repaid to government if the coalition is successful in its bid to buy

the hopper cars.



"The announcement today by the provincial government clearly demonstrates

the province's continuing commitment to western Canadian farmers," Farmer

Rail Car Coalition President Sinclair Harrison said.



The Farmer Rail Car Coalition is made up of seven farmer organizations

including Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities, National

Farmers' Union, Wild Rose Agricultural Producers of Alberta, Keystone

Agricultural Producers of Manitoba, Saskatchewan Canola Growers, Family

Farm Foundation and Southern Rails Co-operative.



A formal bid will be delivered to the federal government this fall.



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For more information, contact:



Vanessa Gooliaff Beaupré

Highways and Transportation

Regina

Phone: (306) 787-4792

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