Major Canadian railway that supplies U.S. fertilizer shuts down amid labor strike

A fertilizer industry expert says there could be further disruptions in the supply chain from failed labor negotiations with the Canadian Pacific Railway.

Kathy Mathers with The Fertilizer Institute says a key transportation route to deliver fertilizer has been shut down. “It could really could gum up the shipments of potash to the U.S., to U.S. growers. That remains a big concern for us.”

Negotiations with the Teamsters Rail Conference Canada Union continued Sunday with federal mediators at the table. The company says it’s bargaining over higher pension caps.

She tells Brownfield Canada exports more than 80 percent of the U.S.’s potash supply by rail and it’s unclear what the immediate or long-term impacts might be. “It really depends on where the grower’s geography is. How close they are. What sort of arrangements their retailers are making and how much they communicated with their retailers about their needs.”

Mathers was on a call with the White House Monday morning and says the administration told participants it is working with the Canadian government to resolve the issue. “It is basically reaching the highest levels of U.S. government in terms of its concern. The Biden administration recognizes that fertilizer is kind of the number one poster child on all of this and how very, very important it is.”

Mathers says last week several ag groups wrote a letter to the administration addressing these concerns.

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