Prairie grain growers look to lock in prices

CNS Canada — Western Canadian Farmers are starting to show more interest in locking in new-crop contracts, as pricing opportunities finally show some improvement across the Prairies, said industry participants.

“I think if there’s some decent prices out there people will be locking them in,” said Lynn Jacobson, president of the Alberta Federation of Agriculture, noting a month ago, locking in a price was simply not profitable.

“There was too wide a gap in between what you could earn and what you could produce it for.”

Other producers have begun to look at shifting their traditional crop patterns or adopting new ones. Flax, fababeans, peas and soybeans are just some of the crops that could get more attention in Alberta this year, said Jacobson, a producer at Enchant, Alta.

In Manitoba, many producers are starting to lock in delivery contracts because the prices are now more in line with the true value of the grain they want to sell.

“I think there’s going to be producers taking cash bids and near-term contract deliveries between now and spring, before seeding and road-restrictions (begin),” said Doug Chorney, a farmer at East Selkirk, Man. and president of Keystone Agricultural Producers.

Norm Hall, a farmer at Wynyard, Sask. and president of the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan (APAS), said producers who signed early contracts last year were the ones who were able to sell the crop and get some cash flow.

“The ones that normally market later in the year are the ones that are generally in a little more dire straits this year,” he said.

In just a few weeks, the three leaders are scheduled to have breakfast with Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz in Ottawa.

The grain transportation crisis stands to be front and centre at the meeting with Jacobson already calling for more grain to be shipped east, “especially out of Manitoba and the eastern part of Saskatchewan,” he said. Rules and regulations around grain transportation should also be on the table.

— Dave Sims writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.

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