Recent History – 2001
June 14, 2001
By Mark Nielsen, Daily News Staff
News that a new grain elevator will be built in Dawson Creek is being welcomed by the B.C. Grain Producers Association.
“Any competition is good,” said the association’s president Jim Smolik of the announcement that Louis Dreyfus Canada will have a steel-construction elevator open in October at the B.C. Rail (BCR) yard in Dawson Creek.
But he said there is still one outstanding issue revolving around the fact that the Pioneer and Agricore elevators on the east side of town are on Canadian National (CN) track.
Currently, BC Rail can only shuttle cars on the CNR portion of the track which runs from 17th Street east for grain loading and cannot market rates.
“That could become an issue later on if the freight rates are not the same for all the elevators in town,” Smolik said. “But if we can get onto a consistent freight rate across town then the competition is really good for us.”
Dawson Creek and District Chamber of Commerce manager Wayne Dahlen said progress is being made on that front after a committee was appointed to deal with the issue.
Dahlen said that BCR’s vice president of marketing and sales has taken their concerns to CN and has asked them to put together some proposals.
“At least we’ve got the parties talking, which is good,” Dahlen said, adding that with the new elevator the issue is more important than ever.
“Louis Dreyfus is on BC Rail trackage and by bringing your grain to them, you get the incentives,” he said. “That’s why it’s important that the two elevators, Agricore and Pioneer, which are sitting on CN track, get the same incentives.”
Meanwhile, the vast majority of grain seeding has been completed, and after the recent early-summer rains, farmers are also enjoying the sunny weather.
“The spring was very cool and this rain has certainly helped,” Smolik said. “The grain in certain spots was not coming all that good because of the cool moist conditions.
“It has warmed up and the rain has certainly helped, so it’s sort of a combination of warming up and also the rain.”
Ministry of Agriculture crop insurance representative Lee Bowd’s comments echoed Smolik’s: “The last two weeks have been pretty wet and we need heat right now, but other than people struggling to get their weed control done, things are not too bad.”
Agricore reported Tuesday that the recent rains in the Peace were creating moisture conditions that were very good bordering on excessive. “Farmers in the Dawson Creek area are looking for the rains to stop and for more heat to move the crop along,” Agricore said in the weekly crop report.
Prices for grain, meanwhile, appear to have bottomed out, but they remain poor.
“There’s still a little bit of optimism that grain prices are starting to move up a little bit but they’re still not good,” Bowd said. “And fescue prices are down, so it’s still not a rosy year in terms of revenue for the grain industry which is going to impact the whole economy here.”
A farmer’s appreciation barbecue will be held this afternoon at Pioneer Village, 1-5 p.m. It’s the fourth year that the Dawson Creek and District Chamber of Commerce is putting on the event.