Trains and trade top the agenda for new Grain Growers of Canada president

Gary Stanford says grain can’t be shunted aside even though 
the railways are moving a lot more oil and fertilizer these days

Grain movement is a top priority for the new president of the Grain Growers of Canada.

“The railways are getting so full with new products on the rail that we want to make sure that grain stays a high priority for the railways,” said Gary Stanford, a dryland and irrigation farmer who grows canola, barley, alfalfa, spring and winter wheat at Magrath, south of Lethbridge.

“There is a lot more fertilizer and oil that is using up the railways, and we don’t want to get pushed out because the railways are the only way we can get our grain to port.”

The Grain Growers just finished working on a railway review along with the Canada Grain Council, the Western Grain Elevator Association, and several other groups, he noted.

Trade issues, including the recent World Trade Organization talks in Indonesia, are another key concern, he said.

“We want to make sure the voice of the farmer is being heard and the trade that (Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz) worked on is good news for grain farmers,” said Stanford.

His organization is also focused on the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement with the European Union, he said.

“We need to make sure that our grain is non-GMO so we can move into the EU markets,” he said. “So we have some work to do to make sure that the grain and pulses we ship are acceptable to the EU market.”

Stanford has been on the Grain Growers board for about six years, the last three as vice-president. He is also the Region 1 director for the Alberta Wheat Commission, sits on research committee, and chairs the winter wheat committee. Stanford first became involved in commodity organizations in 1996 as a director for the Alberta Winter Wheat Commission.

The Grain Growers of Canada is comprised of 14 different grain commodity groups — including pulses, soybeans, corn, oats, rye, barley and wheat — and has been ranked among the most active lobby groups in the country.

“We’ve actually become fairly high profile in Ottawa with all of the various government parties — the NDP, the Conservatives and the Liberals,” said Stanford.

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