Benefits of open market evident at busy ports

With feed barley flowing off the west coast to Japan, out of Churchill to Saudi Arabia and with canola being exported by the CWB, a number of post-monopoly fears have been temporarily allayed for some.

Richardson International, which announced a feed barley sale to Japan last week, said the open market is helping it connect prairie grains to buyers.

Having a direct relationship with wheat and barley buyers as it already does with canola and special crops buyers helps it organize multi-commodity cargoes.

“Being able to load larger vessels with multiple commodities puts Canadian producers on a more competitive environment into longer distance markets,” said Richardson vice-president in charge of export sales Terry James in a news release detailing the recent shipments.

“By capturing freight advantages, we can provide our customers with positive price opportunities to sell their grain to markets around the globe.”

Richard Phillips, executive director of the Grain Growers of Canada, said fears that some people had about the open market were unfounded.

“It just shows that the politics of fear had only fear behind it. They underestimated the entrepreneurial zeal of people to make this succeed,” he said.

The feed barley for Japan was a 42,000 tonne shipment out of Prince Rupert. The grain was collected from Richardson Pioneer elevators in Saskatchewan and Alberta.

Richardson also shipped 49,000 tonnes of feed barley to Saudi Arabia that sailed from the port of Churchill in early October.

The northern port on Hudson Bay handled 432,434 tonnes of grain this season, compared to the 10 year average of just over 450,000 tonnes.

Many had predicted that nobody would ship grain through Churchill once the CWB’s export monopoly was broken.

Richardson’s Churchill shipment was the first feed barley exported from that port since 1992 and the largest ever shipment of that crop for the port. James also said Richardson has made malting barley sales to South Africa and Colombia in the post-board era.

The CWB’s recent sale of 42,000 tonnes of canola to Japan also shows that it has a chance to expand beyond board grains. Many critics thought the non-monopoly CWB would have trouble making sales or attracting grain from farmers.

Phillips said the canola sale is evidence a voluntary wheat board has a role.

“Farmers are using the wheat board in an open market, as many of us thought they would,” he said.

“Ian White and the senior management group he’s got in there are a pretty competent group. They don’t need the monopoly to operate efficiently.”

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