Large Churchill export program off to a slow start

Farmers aren’t the only ones hoping for an extended bout of mild weather this fall. 

The Port of Churchill was expecting its first ship of the season this week. While it is not unusual for the northern port to load its first grain after the Aug. 1 start of the new crop year, the push will be on to meet what is expected to be a strong export program through the facility this year. 

“This year, we have a large August program on the books for Churchill, which means we are predicting a program upwards of 500, 000 tonnes, ” said CWB spokesperson Maureen Fitzhenry. If achieved, it would be the second-largest volume to move through the port since 2000, surpassed only by the 30-year-record of 621,000 tonnes moved in 2007. 

The vessel, which was due Tuesday, will be loaded with durum destined for Europe. Cool weather this summer ended hopes for an earlier start to the Churchill season. However, Fitzhenry said no grain moved through the port in July in 2002, 2004, or 2006. The board’s shipping program through the port for July has never exceeded 30,000 tonnes.

“Many ship owners are reluctant to agree to send a boat to Churchill before the end of July, mainly related to insurance issues and navigation in the strait,” Fitzhenry said.  

CWB shipments comprised 100 per cent of the grain shipped through Churchill in 2007 and 2008, and 90 per cent of all traffic through the port.

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