CGC surplus spending decision a long way off

Canadian grain growers have offered plenty of ideas on what the Canadian Grain Commission should do with an operating surplus valued at $107 million as of last September, whether it be buying new grain cars, spending it on plant breeding, overhauling the grain grading system or giving it back to farmers.

However, a final decision on how to manage the money could be months away, according to CGC officials.

“Stakeholder comments will be evaluated and taken into consideration as we move forward with identifying a proposal, or proposals, that will maximize value for producers and the industry,” said a CGC document that summarizes stakeholder views.

“Prior to carrying out any proposal, stakeholders may have further opportunity to provide input.”

Earlier this year, the grain commission launched a consultation process to determine how the $107 million surplus should be handled.

Its is the result of CGC service fees that generated more revenue than expected.

The 60-day consultation period concluded May 1 and generated 92 written submissions, the CGC summary document says.

The vast majority of stakeholders said the CGC surplus should be used to support activities that deliver clear benefits to producers.

Many respondents recognized the value of investing in grain commission infrastructure and indicated support for upgrades to the CGC’s grain research lab, improvements to CGC buildings and office systems and enhanced real-time analytical testing at terminal elevators and other locations.

However, others were opposed to spending the surplus on infrastructure projects because the user fees “were not explicitly collected for that purpose.”

Other suggestions included:

  • Using the surplus to offset or reduce future user fees.
  • Using a portion of the surplus to improve the CGC’s producer protection program and increase its effectiveness for producers.
  • Upgrading the CGC grain re-search laboratory, office space and base building systems.
  • Establishing new labs and real-time analytical testing at terminal elevators.
  • Modernizing or improving CGC services such as grain grading, mycotoxin testing, grade validation during vessel loading, dispute resolution and subject to grade and dockage services.
  • Random audits of procedures and equipment used by grain companies to determine grade and dockage at delivery points.
  • Investments in plant breeding aimed at discontinuing royalty collections.
  • Spending the money to buy a producer-owned grain car fleet.

CGC spokesperson Remi Gosselin said it is working with federal departments to determine a course of action.

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