The grain firm formerly known as the Canadian Wheat Board has laid out plans for a fourth Prairie elevator — this time much closer to home.
Winnipeg-based CWB on Friday announced it has picked a site half a mile south of Glenlea, Man., or about 10 km south of Winnipeg city limits off Highway 75, with access to both Canadian National (CN) and BNSF rail lines.
A geotechnical survey for the elevator is already done and construction is set to start in about a couple of weeks for an opening in early 2016, CWB said.
The new elevator is to include 34,000 tonnes of grain storage capacity, a car loading rate of up to 1,600 tonnes per hour, and a loop track for a 134-car rail spot, plus grain cleaning facilities.
Noting the Red River Valley is home to “some of the most fertile, high-producing lands on the Prairies,” CWB CEO Ian White said the company is “looking forward to putting down roots in the community with another modern, efficient and easily accessible elevator.”
Having CN and BNSF access, CWB said, will give the company “excellent” position to move grain to its Thunder Bay terminal, West Coast ports and U.S. and Mexican destinations.
Formed in 2012 when the federal government stripped the Canadian Wheat Board of its single marketing desk for Prairie wheat, durum and barley, CWB has moved both to build and buy grain handling assets ahead of its full privatization.
In recent months the company has announced plans to build new elevators at Bloom, west of Portage la Prairie, Man.; at Colonsay, Sask., east of Saskatoon; and at Pasqua, Sask., east of Moose Jaw.
CWB has also bought Great Sandhills Terminal in southwestern Saskatchewan; the Prairie West Terminal group of elevators in western Saskatchewan; and Winnipeg-based Mission Terminal, which along with the Thunder Bay terminal has an elevator west of Brandon, Man., and stakes in three Prairie producer-car loading sites.
White reiterated Friday that farmers who choose to market grain through CWB can qualify for an “ongoing farmer ownership stake” in the soon-to-be-privatized company through its Farmer Equity Plan.
The Farmer Equity Plan, rolled out in 2013, allows farmers who deliver grain against CWB contracts to get equity interest in the company after privatization. CWB bills the plan as “the only opportunity for farmers to gain an ownership stake in a Canadian-focused grain company.”
CWB recently saw its 2012-13 annual report tabled in the House of Commons — but with all its financial information for the crop year redacted as “commercially sensitive.” [Related story]
The government’s decision not to release CWB’s financial data was ridiculed by critics in the Commons and by critics of the government’s move to privatize the former Wheat Board.
“There is a legal and moral obligation to the taxpayers of Canada and farmers to publish their results from 2012-13,” Stewart Wells, a former farmer-director with the Wheat Board, said last week.
“What would this minister have done if the farmer-elected board of directors had refused to publish an audited financial report?”
Wells and Saskatchewan Liberal MP Ralph Goodale, a former minister in charge of the Wheat Board, both said last week they suspect CWB did poorly in its first year of post-single-desk operation.
If CWB had done well, federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz would be bragging about it, Goodale told Manitoba Co-operator reporter Allan Dawson.
Farmers of North America (FNA), a Saskatoon-based crop input buying group, also recently announced it plans to gauge farmers’ interest in investing in a majority position in CWB. — AGCanada.com Network