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
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
"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
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.
For more information, contact:
Vanessa Gooliaff Beaupré
Highways and Transportation
Phone: (306) 787-4792