Letter to the editor, Dec. 5, 2014

Rod Nickel’s article,“Canada’s wheat exports dogged by quality complaints,” incorrectly states that there has been an increase in the number of complaints from buyers of Canadian wheat since the removal of the single desk marketing authority from the Canadian Wheat Board.

Since 2011-12, the last crop year that Canadian wheat was marketed through the Canadian Wheat Board, the number of cargo complaints received by the Canadian Grain Commission for wheat shipments has decreased, and none were deemed to be justified.

The Canadian Grain Commission becomes involved in complaints at the request of buyers or sellers. Cargo complaints are formal complaints to the Canadian Grain Commission about the quality or quantity of grain shipments that are stated on the Canadian Grain Commission’s Certificate Final. The Certificate Final is the assurance that Canada’s grain export shipments meet Canadian quality and quantity standards, and we stand by our certificates.

In the article, a Prima employee and former Canadian Wheat Board employee complains about a Canadian wheat shipment. The Canadian Grain Commission did receive a formal cargo complaint about the quality of wheat received as part of the shipment. We conducted an investigation which included a review of all shipping documents and all official loading samples and we determined that the complaint was unjustified.

The grain buyer also suggests that Canadian wheat shipments don’t measure up to shipments from other origins. Canada’s grain quality assurance system is among the best in the world. Changes to the marketing of Canadian wheat and the elimination of mandatory inward weighing and inspection from the Canada Grain Act have not changed the Canadian Grain Commission’s responsibilities for quality and quantity assurance, nor have they affected the quality and consistency of Canadian wheat shipments.

As for other concerns raised by buyers, low gluten strength and protein levels have been an issue for the last three crop years and were a result of environmental issues (weather) and the way some wheat varieties reacted to recent growing conditions. Gluten strength and protein levels are higher this year.

Finally, the president of the Agriculture Union of the Public Service Alliance of Canada suggested that changes to Canadian Grain Commission inspection services as grain unloads at terminals locations has led to less rigorous inspections. These comments are not accurate, as the rigor of our processes, related to the inspection and certification of the quality and quantity of grain as it is loaded onto vessels for export, have not changed.

In the end, quality issues are not about who is marketing Canadian wheat but rather are about the predominant grading factors in each year’s crop. Canada’s global reputation has been built up by the hard work of Canadian farmers and the entire grain sector. Inaccurate speculation and rumours designed to harm our reputation should be dismissed.

What speaks volumes is that buyers come back each year to buy Canadian grain because they know what they are going to get, and because Canada’s grain quality assurance system delivers consistent and reliable quality results.

Elwin Hermanson
Chief Commissioner
Canadian Grain Commission

 

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