Canola marketing a possibility under new CWB

The new voluntary Canadian Wheat Board may be looking to branch out to market other commodities, particularly canola, in time for the 2012-13 crop.

However, the CWB is currently focused on transitioning its traditional wheat, durum, and barley marketing to an open market, and the introduction of new commodities is still forthcoming.

"We expect, and want, to have a program for canola marketing this year," said CWB spokeswoman Maureen Fitzhenry, "and our hope is that it would be available during the summer period."

Fitzhenry said specifics of any canola marketing program from the CWB were not yet worked out, as the agency has focused its attention on getting its new wheat, durum, and barley programs up and running.

The CWB is also still working on getting grain handling agreements with grain companies in place before moving onto other crops.

Cargill’s Canadian elevator network and Saskatchewan’s South West Terminal are the only grain handlers so far confirmed to have reached handling agreements with the CWB. Fitzhenry said more agreements should be in place "very soon," but said there was nothing to announce just yet.

A government bill passed in December 2011 will see the CWB’s long-standing single desk marketing approach end as of Aug. 1 this year. The CWB will continue as a voluntary grain merchant, with the legislation allowing it to market any crop it chooses.

The Manitoba Canola Growers Association (MCGA) had looked into the possibility of marketing canola through the CWB in the past, when it was still the single-desk seller for western Canadian wheat, durum, and barley.

There wasn’t enough interest from farmers at the time, however, and the MCGA stopped pursuing the idea a year ago.

With a new voluntary CWB, MCGA executive director Bill Ross said any additional marketing options would be welcomed by farmers.

When the MCGA was in original discussions on marketing canola through the CWB, it was looking at the possibility of setting up short, three-month pools for canola. Ross said he was not aware of what the CWB would do now.

"They are now players in the open market, just like everyone else," said Ross. "For our members, (the CWB) would just be another market, which is good, as competition is always good," he added.

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