Boosts approved for CWB initial payments

Prairie wheat and barley growers’ initial 2010-11 payments from the Canadian Wheat Board will see adjustments effective next week by as much as $90 per tonne for the highest-protein spring wheat.

The increases, effective Dec. 2, will mean adjustment payments for Prairie farmers who will have delivered wheat, durum and barley to the CWB between Aug. 1 and Dec. 1 this year.

Depending on the farmer’s preference, payments will either be direct-deposited Dec. 14 or will be delivered for mailing Dec. 17.

Increases on wheat range from as low as $39 per tonne ($1.09 per bushel) for No. 2 Canada Western red winter (CWRW) at 11.1 per cent protein, to as high as $91.30 per tonne ($2.48/bu.) on No. 1 CW red spring (CWRS) at 15.5 per cent protein.

Initial payments on all protein levels of No. 1 CW amber durum (CWAD) will rise $70 per tonne ($1.91/bu.), while No. 5 CWAD will yield an adjustment payment of $44.40 per tonne ($1.21/bu.).

All grades of CW feed barley in Pool A will get adjustment payments of $60 per tonne, which works out to $1.31/bu for No. 1 and 2 CW feed barley and $1.58/bu. for Standard CW Hulless.

Adjustments of $50 per tonne will go to all grades of designated CW two-row malting barley ($1.09/bu., except for hulless at $1.32). All grades of designated CW six-row malting barley, meanwhile, will get adjustment payments of $52 per tonne ($1.13/bu., except for hulless at $1.37).

Initial payments represent part of the returns that growers can expect from the sale of their board grains over the entire given crop year.

The CWB regularly reviews the initial payments over the course of the year and recommends adjustment payments when market conditions and sales progress warrant. The federal government, as the guarantor of initial payments, must approve the level at which they’re set.

“Pretty positive”

New Democrat MP Pat Martin earlier this month accused the pro-deregulation Conservative government of deliberately stalling its approval for increased initials.

“The government doesn’t want a big, fat cheque from the CWB landing in the mailbox on the very same day as the ballot for the (farmer-elected) directors of the CWB because obviously producers would be feeling pretty positive towards the wheat board,” said Martin, a Winnipeg MP.

Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz blamed the CWB for the delay, saying its first application was “done improperly,” when Martin raised it in the House of Commons Nov. 2.

The CWB said it had recommended Ottawa boost initial payments in early September, but toward the end of that month withdrew it and recommended even higher initials to reflect the recent rise in world grain prices.

A new recommendation was expected to get more money to farmers faster than if the CWB had waited for the government to approve the first recommendation, a CWB spokesman said at the time.

Federal approval for the increased initials is required to pass analysis from the federal agriculture and finance departments and get approval from the Treasury Board.

The government brought forward legislation in May that would end the requirement for Treasury Board approval. It’s expected that such a move, when or if approved, would speed up the process for CWB initial, interim and final payments by as much as three weeks.

That legislation, part of Bill C-27 on the government’s order paper, passed first reading in May but hasn’t yet gone forward for further debate or discussion.

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