Canola grower group to canvass on using CWB

Canola growers across the Prairies can expect to be asked this week if they’d like to try voluntary marketing of their crop through the Canadian Wheat Board.

Asking the question will be the Manitoba Canola Growers Association (MCGA), by way of ads appearing in the Manitoba Co-operator and Western Producer farm newspapers.

“The idea of selling canola on the open market through the CWB has been under consideration since our members passed a resolution directing us as their board to investigate alternative marketing methods for growers,” MCGA vice-president Ed Rempel said in a release Friday.

“Since the CWB is already a farmer-owned and controlled international marketing agency, it seemed logical to ask it to take on the task of marketing canola on a voluntary basis,” said Rempel, who farms at Starbuck, about 30 km southwest of Winnipeg.

The print ad will ask canola growers if they would be interested in committing some production to the CWB, “should this open market option be made available to them,” the MCGA said.

Given enough grower interest, MCGA said, it would then seek approval from the CWB board of directors, develop a marketing plan and get that plan approved by the federal minister responsible for the CWB — most recently, Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz.

Interested producers are asked to fill in a survey online or clip and return the form from the print ad to the MCGA by April 30.

“Costs and revenue”

The MCGA said on its website it has already approached the CWB to explore the feasibility of helping canola growers market their crop through a voluntary program.

Representatives of the Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta canola growers’ bodies met with CWB officials in Winnipeg in mid-November, the MCGA said.

Among the “potential benefits” the MCGA cited on its site are “professional marketing by a farmer-controlled organization,” risk management through price pooling and greater use of producer cars and of port facilities at Churchill, Man., plus “increased transparency on costs and revenue.”

Also, the MCGA said, it has written Ritz to ask what requirements would have to be met in order for him to issue an order-in-council allowing such an idea.

Sections 49 to 52 of the federal CWB Act allow the CWB to market other crops on an open market system, if certain conditions are met, including “demonstrated interest” by growers, the MCGA said.

Ritz, the association said, “did not express any objections to voluntary marketing of canola by the CWB” but did want to know the views of the other canola growers’ agencies and how much canola was likely to be marketed through such a plan.

In MCGA’s talks with the CWB, “it has been generally understood that to make this open marketing project viable, a minimum firm commitment of 200,000 tonnes of canola would be needed, spread across the Prairie region,” the growers’ group said.

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