Quebec’s grain growers wind down wheat pooling

Quebec’s grain growers’ organization has officially halted any plans for wheat pooling in 2012-13, as per the results of a wheat growers’ referendum this spring.

The Federation des producteurs de cultures commerciales du Quebec (FPCCQ) said in a newsletter Wednesday that its board of directors voted June 12 to call off plans for a 2012-13 pool.

However, the FPCCQ noted, any grower obligations to the pool for the 2011-12 marketing year still must be met as planned, up until growers receive their final payments for the year.

Most of the 2011 crop has already been sold, with "limited tonnages" still to be marketed, and final payments for the year are expected to be available early this fall, the FPCCQ said.

The FPCCQ board’s vote to shut down pooling beyond 2011-12 directly follows the June 6 release of results from a mail-in grower referendum held from May 14 to June 4, supervised by the provincial farm marketing board, the Regie des marches agricoles et alimentaires du Quebec (RMAAQ).

That vote, conducted from a list of 2,021 eligible voters who had delivered wheat at least once between March 30, 2005 and March 7, 2012, saw 953 votes cast against maintaining wheat pools, 191 in favour of the pools, 22 ballots rejected as improperly filled and 46 rejected for arriving too late.

The referendum stemmed from a resolution at the FPCCQ’s annual meeting in March last year. The resolution sought a new vote on the sales agency program for food-grade wheat — a program run by the federation since 2005.

That resolution cited the high cost of operating the sales pool, relative to the small volumes it handles. It also cited "dissatisfaction" of a significant number of producers with the program and its wheat quality requirements.

The resolution also alleged a large number of Quebec grain growers have been bailing out of wheat production, adding that the pooling program had been intended to revive wheat production in Quebec in the first place.

The FPCCQ, under its pooling program, negotiated sales with buyers, managed deliveries to millers and paid initial, interim and final payments to growers.

The federation said Wednesday it will now also have to wind down the business relationships it’s had with millers over the past seven years.

Flour millers will want to see the same quality of supply they’ve become used to in recent years, regardless of the marketing method, the federation said.

St-Polycarpe specialty miller Les Moulins de Soulanges, for one, accepts the cancellation of its purchase agreement and farmers thus are no longer legally bound by contracts they had with the company for 2012, the FPCCQ said.

Nevertheless, the federation said, Les Moulins de Soulanges will still honour contracts for the 2012 harvest as they were signed if farmers wish to do the same.

The miller will also soon offer contracts to growers for their 2013 winter wheat, the FPCCQ said Wednesday.

Related story:
Referendum sur le ble: 83% non, June 11, 2012

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