Two of three commissioners at the Canadian Grain Commission deny reports of discord at the agency’s top level.
One farm media outlet has reported “mistrust and division” among the commissioners, according to several unnamed sources.
The story said chief commissioner Patti Miller is at odds with fellow commissioners Doug Chorney and Lonny McKague, who are both farmers.
It said Miller has an “industry friendly” agenda and has left the other two commissioners out of the decision-making process.
Miller denies the report.
“There isn’t mistrust between the three commissioners,” she said in an email to The Western Producer.
“We have a professional working relationship.”
Chorney echoed her comments.
“I would say I have a professional working relationship with my fellow commissioners,” he said.
McKague was contacted for this story but did not respond.
According to the report in the Manitoba Co-operator, Miller will be promoting a pro-grain company agenda in the upcoming review of the Canada Grain Act and farmer interests will be sidelined.
Miller once again denied that allegation.
“There are no predetermined outcomes and we need to do our homework before drawing conclusions on how the act should evolve,” she said.
“This is a significant policy discussion and all grain sector stakeholders, from farmers to exporters, will be able to provide input.”
Wade Sobkowich, executive director of the Western Grain Elevator Association, didn’t want to weigh in on the reported friction at the commission.
“I’m not going to get into the fray about disputes or discord among commissioners and who they’re backing and who they’re supporting,” he said. “I’m of the belief that all the commissioners are trying to work in the best interest of the industry as a whole.”
The biggest issue grain companies want addressed in the review of the Canada Grain Act is to make the commission a regulator rather than a service provider.
Sobkowich said buyers are seeking third party inspection on 80 percent of the grain that is exported out of Canada. They don’t care about the commission’s Certificate Final.
Yet the CGC is obligated to inspect all shipments leaving the country and it charges grain companies $1.42 per tonne for its services compared to the 50 cents a tonne charged by the private sector.
The unnecessary duplication is costing the industry an estimated $38 million a year, he said.
Sobkowich said he believes farmers and grain companies should be on the same page on the issue because getting rid of redundant costs means more money for everyone.
He said there needs to be unity on all aspects of the review.
“We know that the success that we had on the transportation bill was really as a result of consensus between farm organizations and industry.”
But true unity may prove elusive because some argue that eliminating the CGC’s Certificate Final will undermine Canada’s grain quality assurance system.