Virtual town hall on federal Grain Act set for Friday

Time is running out on consultations, but the April 23 event gives farmers a chance to provide input

The Canadian Grain Commission building on Main Street in Winnipeg. (File photo)

The deadline for submitting comments to the federal government’s review of the Canada Grain Act and Canadian Grain Commission (CGC) is April 30, but farmers can also offer feedback at a ‘virtual’ town hall meeting this Friday.

The Grain Act and its regulations provide the framework for Canada’s grain quality assurance system and it’s the CGC that administers the act.

The English-language Webex webinar goes from 12:30 p.m. (CT) to 2 p.m. on April 23. Farmers can register here.

The review started about two years ago.

“The Canada Grain Act sets out the objectives and functions of the Canadian Grain Commission, which is responsible for regulating grain quality and handling in Canada to ensure a dependable commodity for domestic and export markets,” the federal government says in a discussion paper on the review.

“The Canadian Grain Commission delivers programs and services to establish and maintain Canada’s science-based grain grading system and provide various safeguards for grain farmers.”

The paper highlights the following issues that could be of special interest to farmers:

  • Access to binding determination of grade and dockage: Binding determination is intended to be an independent dispute resolution mechanism when a producer and buyer disagree on grade or dockage. Are there any gaps between the current system and what is needed?
  • Producer payment protection: The program is intended to help ensure producers are protected against a buyer’s failure to pay for grain, in a cost-effective manner that fairly allocates risk. Can the program be improved to better meet the needs of the sector?
  • CGC licensing: The licensing system for elevators and grain dealers is designed as a framework for establishing and maintaining Canada’s grain quality assurance system, while also safeguarding producers and enabling data collection. Does the existing licensing approach meet the sector’s needs?
  • Official inspection and weighing: The system of inspection, weighing, and certification of grain for export is intended to help ensure there is dependable Canadian grain for domestic and export markets. Are there ways the system could better meet the sector’s needs? Currently it’s mandatory for the CGC to weigh and grade Canadian grain exported by ship — a process is referred to as ‘outward inspection.’

The Western Grain Elevator Association (WGEA), which represents Canada’s main grain companies, wants to be able to use private grain inspectors, with CGC accreditation, instead.

The WGEA says it already uses private inspectors in part because grain buyers use the same inspecting companies when they received the grain.

Eliminating CGC inspection would save money, the association says.

But some farmer are wary noting the CGC is independent and its oversight assures the integrity of Canadian grain, renowned for its quality and consistency.

— Allan Dawson is a reporter for the Manitoba Co-operator at Miami, Man.

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