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CWB broadens wheat storage program

The Canadian Wheat Board has brought back its storage program to keep high-end milling wheat stored in reserve, but will expand it this year to run through all grain elevators across the Prairies.

The CWB first introduced its Wheat Storage Program in 2007, with a limited sign-up and a July 31 sign-up deadline, running only through specified delivery points in regions of the Prairies where high-protein, high-quality wheat is more often grown.

But the CWB on Wednesday said its 2008-09 program is “extended to all elevators in an effort to keep some of Western Canada’s best wheat in reserve.”

Also this year, the sign-up period is to be changed to the fall, when most farmers are making decisions about pricing and delivery, with a new sign-up deadline of Oct. 31.

Under the Wheat Storage Program, farmers who have top-quality milling wheat can get at least $27 per tonne above the going price.

For example, the board said, farmers would get a $15 per tonne premium for No. 1 CWRS with 15 per cent or higher protein and $10 per tonne for protein of 14.5 to 14.9 per cent. With storage payments are $1 per tonne per month and a minimum 12-month storage period, farmers in the program would therefore get an extra $27 per tonne for wheat with the top protein content.

Churchill program

Also, farmers in the catchment area for the Hudson Bay port of Churchill, Man. (generally, northeastern Saskatchewan and northwestern Manitoba) can get at least $10.50 a tonne extra for storing Nos. 1 and 2 Canada Western Red Spring wheat (CWRS) destined for export through Churchill, with sign-up also available until October 31.

A Churchill corridor Guaranteed Delivery Contract (GDC) was first offered during the last few months of the 2007-08 crop year, replacing the former Churchill Freight Advantage Rebate program.

Given changes this year to the Churchill GDC, farmers will have longer paid storage periods and the CWB will know, early in the crop year, what grain is available for marketing through the next Churchill shipping season, the board said. The northern port’s shipping season runs when the route is ice-free, from late July to early November.

With the Churchill GDC’s premium of $2.50 per tonne, storage payments of $1 per tonne per month and a minimum eight-month storage period, the contract would pay an extra $10.50 per tonne, the CWB said. A list of eligible stations and other information is available on the board’s web site.

“Long-term customers”

Though the current Prairie harvest is only about 30 per cent complete, the board said in a release, the overall quality and protein of the 2008 crop is predicted to be “somewhat lower” than in the past couple of years.

“Combined with extremely low stocks remaining from 2007, it is crucial that top quality, high-protein wheat be reserved for valuable long-term customers,” such as those in the U.K. and Japan, the CWB wrote of its storage program.

“Farmers can play an important role in ensuring that we have the right kind of wheat available for their best customers when it’s needed, regardless of the kind of growing season we have,” CWB CEO Ian White said in the board’s release. “We think it makes sense to pay farmers themselves to store this grain if they can.”

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