The number of licensed primary grain elevators in Western Canada has dropped since the Canadian Wheat Board’s single desk marketing mandate ended four years ago, statistics from the Canadian Grain Commission show.
However, during the same four-year period, storage capacity at primary elevators increased by more than one million tonnes, the statistics suggest.
According to the CGC publication Grain Elevators in Canada, the country’s four western provinces had 336 licensed primary elevators as of Aug. 1, 2016, and total storage capacity of 7.032 million tonnes.
Four years earlier, the number of western Canadian elevators was listed at 345 and total storage capacity was 6.087 million tonnes.
Saskatchewan’s primary elevator capacity showed the biggest change.
The number of elevators in the province fell by seven from 180 to 173 between August 2012 and August 2016, but capacity grew by more than 500,000 tonnes to 3.661 million tonnes.
Manitoba’s elevator numbers fell by two to 82, but capacity rose by more than 200,000 tonnes to 1.496 million.
Alberta’s primary elevator capacity also increased by more than 200,000 tonnes to 1.834 million. The number of elevators in the province was unchanged at 77.
British Columbia’s elevator numbers were unchanged at four. Storage capacity was listed at 41,000 tonnes.
Terminal elevator capacity also rose significantly across the country.
Total capacity at Canadian export terminals was listed at 4.841 million tonnes as of Aug. 1, 2016, up from 2.429 million tonnes four years ago.
Additional capacity is expected to come online in the next few years with ongoing infrastructure investments in the country and at export position.
Many grain industry observers suggested before the elimination of single desk grain marketing in mid-2012 that a deregulated grain market in Western Canada would lead to more grain delivery opportunities and more competition for farmers’ grain.
CGC’s numbers appear to support that claim, at least partially.
Ninety-six companies were listed as grain dealers at the beginning of the 2016-17 crop year, compared to 73 four years earlier.
At the same time, the number of firms licensed as primary elevator operators in Canada fell to 60n from 67 in mid-2012.