NFU asks CGC Commissioners to uphold farmers’ interests and Canada’s grain quality standards
On July 27, the National Farmers Union (NFU) wrote a letter to the three Commissioners of the Canadian Grain Commission (CGC) to express serious concerns about a proposal being developed for a new Eastern wheat class that would have no end-use quality requirements and a grading schedule that promotes selling via Identity Preserved (IP) contracts.
After the grain sector rejected a proposal for a new class with no parameters in 2017, the CGC set up a consultation process to review and evaluate the existing eastern wheat class structure before implementing any changes. Both the new proposal and the process involved in developing it have raised concerns serious enough that the NFU has brought them to the attention of the Commissioners.
“Since the destruction of the Canadian Wheat Board, the Canadian Grain Commission is the sole remaining institution mandated to act in the interests of grain producers,” said Cam Goff, Saskatchewan grain farmer and NFU Vice President (Operations). “The CGC’s origins can be traced back more than a century, and since its inception, it has been tasked with ensuring that farmers receive fair treatment in the handling of their grain, and maintaining the quality standards of Canadian grain.”
The proposed new class would clearly serve the interests of grain sector corporations – particularly the seed developers and elevator companies – at the expense of farmers and Canada’s quality standards. The proposal is likely a trial balloon in support of seed corporations’ desire to eliminate Canada’s wheat class system altogether. The new class would also provide a rationale for variety declaration on delivery, which would be a step towards putting an End Point Royalty system into effect.
“The proposed new Eastern Wheat class would enable seed companies to sell varieties that do not meet Canada’s standards for milling wheat, it would provide a supply of low-priced, lower-quality wheat for companies to blend with other milling wheat classes, which would reduce prices for farmers and harm Canada’s international reputation for quality,” Goff explained. “By requiring IP contracts to get any price above feed, the new class would harness farmers more tightly to grain companies, and provide grain companies with even more market power due to increased information collected. The consultation included more than twice the number of corporate lobby group representatives as farmers, so this outcome is not surprising.”
“It is obvious that decisions that are be best for corporate agribusiness profit are not necessarily in farmers', or Canada's, best interests,” added Goff. “We call upon the CGC Commissioners and Canada's federal and provincial Agriculture Ministers to uphold the stated directives of the CGC, and not allow the pre-eminence of farmers’ interests to be undermined.”