Farmers lose transparency with end of COPA’s weekly crush report

WINNIPEG (CNS) — When the Canadian Oilseed Processors Association announced Feb. 2 that it would no longer publish its weekly report on member crushings the Canadian grains industry was shocked.

“I loved that report. In Western Canada, or Canada in general, I think any reports that give you kind of a weekly snapshot of what’s happening in terms of usage (are important),” said Neil Townsend with FarmLink Marketing Solutions.

The report detailed how much canola and soybeans were crushed in Canada. It was sent out weekly and followed by different industry professionals across the country.

COPA executive director Chris Vervaet said on Feb. 5, that the decision came as part of COPA’s future plans for the organization.

“As an association, we’ve just decided to streamline our priorities for 2018 and the weekly publication was just something that we ranked a lower priority for us,” he said.

COPA is a federally incorporated non-profit industry association that works in partnership with the Canola Council of Canada to represent Canadian oilseed processors. COPA’s members are ADM Agri-Industries, Bunge Canada, Cargill Ltd., Louis Dreyfus, Richardson Oilseed Ltd. and Viterra Oilseed Processing.

Last month, Richardson’s pulled its funding from the Canola Council of Canada, the Flax Council of Canada and Soy Canada, stating it didn’t think it was getting value. Vervaet said the decision to end the crush report was unrelated.

COPA said crushing data will still be available through Statistics Canada’s annual and monthly statistics. Vervaet added that COPA plans to update statistics monthly on its website based on the Stats Can information.

However, Townsend said it won’t be nearly as timely as before. Statistics Canada’s data isn’t usually released until later.

“The lag is too long. So, you’re kind of flying blind,” he said, adding Canadian farmers don’t have nearly as much access to information as their counterparts in other countries.

In Australia, shipping lineups from its ports are released and the United States Department of Agriculture releases data weekly for most crops.

There are other ways to access similar information to the COPA member crushings report. The Canadian Grain Commission releases weekly domestic disappearance reports, which for canola basically means crush numbers.

“I’ve watched the two, they’re close, they’re not always the same,” said John DePape with FARMCo.

“I’m not happy when we lose good data but I think there’s still decent data there through the grain commission.”

Vervaet said COPA considered the value of the weekly report before ending it, but hadn’t received a lot of feedback on it.

Townsend said he was caught off-guard when the announcement was made and to his knowledge the grains industry wasn’t consulted.

“I have spoken to a few other people. We instantly sent them an email (when we heard) and just said, ‘Hey, we really like this, we really appreciated it,’ ” he said.

To Townsend, the decision to end the report is the wrong direction. He wants more transparency throughout the Canadian grains industry.

“In the U.S., they report those numbers every week. I think farmers deserve it…. I’d just like to see more transparency in Western Canada,” he said.

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