The Canadian grain handling and transportation system has undergone substantial change in recent years, particularly since the elimination of rail subsidies in 1995. Competitive pressures and branch line abandonment have forced many primary elevators to close, while scores of new high-throughput elevators have been constructed across the Prairies. Rationalization of the grain handling system and proposals for further deregulation of rail transportation are driven by the need to improve system efficiency. Policy recommendations of the Estey Report (notably, the elimination of rail rate caps, and 'port buying' by the Canadian Wheat Board) would have important consequences for the grain trade and are contentious issues within Canada. Changes in grain handling, reciprocal access to marketing functions, and elimination of rate caps may have a significant impact on cross-border barley flows.


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