Grain commission seeks public input on changes

The Canadian Grain Commission is seeking feedback from farmers and grain industry stakeholders on possible changes to the commission and the Canada Grain Act.

The federal government has been suggesting for months that a review of the act and the commission’s roles and services would be forthcoming once legislation aimed at eliminating the Canadian Wheat Board’s single desk marketing authority had been passed.

In a letter issued to grain industry stakeholders earlier this month, the CGC chief commissioner Elwin Hermanson said the commission is seeking feedback on a variety of issues including the CGC governance, the commission’s mandate, licensing, inspection and weighing services, enforcement and the producer payment protection program.

“We have begun to look at key areas for potential change and are now seeking your views,” Hermanson wrote. A discussion paper posted on the CGC’s website stated key changes under consideration:

  • replace three commissioners with one executive who will serve as president and chief executive officer
  • introduce a non-binding dispute resolution process to review commission decisions
  • revamp CGC mandate that clarifies how commission services benefit the entire Canadian population, including grain farmers
  • modernize licensing provisions that accommodate future changes in the industry
  • convert the CGC’s existing producer payment protection program to an insurance based program
  • change or eliminate mandatory inspection and weighing services at terminal and transfer elevators
  • eliminate the Grain Appeals Tribunal
  • replace existing enforcement tools such as licence suspensions with a system of monetary penalties.

 

Cost cutting welcome

Blair Rutter, executive director of the Western Canadian Wheat Growers association, said his organization is pleased that the federal government is attempting to eliminate unnecessary costs.

Until recently, the CGC had suggested that it would alter its fee structure to recover the full cost of existing CGC services.

The WCWG estimated that maintaining existing CGC services and moving to full-cost recovery would cost the grain industry an additional $54 million per year, the lion’s share of which would be borne by farmers.

Rutter said his organization is encouraged by the fact that Ottawa is reviewing CGC operations, scrutinizing the commission’s services and looking for ways to cut costs.

“It’s certainly welcome,” he said.

“They had proposed to effectively double their fees about a year ago without any review of the services that they provide.

“We think this is a much better approach. Let’s first look at what’s needed and what services could be made optional and after that process is done, then we can consider what kind of fee structure they have.

“Now at least they’re coming to industry and saying, ‘what changes do you think need to be made.’ ”

Rutter said the elimination of mandatory inward weighing and inspection could result in significant savings for the industry.

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