Letters to the editor – December 12, 2019

Grain-drying tax pointless, punitive

Re: “Carbon tax a grain-drying mystery” (WP, Nov. 28).

Anecdotal evidence or hard numbers on the cost of the carbon tax on grain drying, it doesn’t matter. Every dollar farmers are spending on a carbon tax on an essential operation to deal with this year’s harvest is a dollar they are not spending in their community.

Farmers suffer. Businesses suffer.

As pointed out by the president of the Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association, Gunter Jochum: “There are no viable alternatives to using natural gas or propane for grain drying.”

Using numbers provided by the Agriculture Producers Association of Saskatchewan, the Yorkton Chamber of Commerce recently sent a letter to Federal Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau, requesting that she petition her government to remove the carbon tax from the fuel purchased to run grain dryers.

With no viable alternative to propane or natural gas for grain drying, the carbon tax on these fuels for this purpose is pointless and punitive. No hard evidence is required to know that the impact on the economy is negative.

Mike Stackhouse

President, Yorkton Chamber of Commerce

Standardized training for grain graders

I attended grading school this fall, hosted by SaskWheat, SaskBarley and SaskCanola. As a producer, this daylong course was free to attend. It was very informative, presenters were knowledgeable and this topic couldn’t have been more relevant to the marketing challenges this year.

We are dealing with new grading factors: falling numbers and chitting (pre-germination) seem to be very important issues to grain buyers this year. However, many farmers aren’t entirely sure what these terms mean.

Grading parameters are getting more and more difficult to deal with. They can lead to downgrading, higher dockage and delayed delivery. Frustrations grow when we experience variability from one elevator or grader to another. Dockage seems to range anywhere from 0.5 percent to three percent or more on a seemingly similar sample. A difference of one percent on a 42 tonne load of canola, at $9.75 per bu., is $180. It adds up. Downgrading can cost thousands per load.

During grading school, after each presentation, the presenter would open the floor to questions. This would often lead to an anecdote or two from farmers feeling frustrated and helpless when dealing with grading, even with the Canadian Grain Commission’s dispute mechanism in place. Farmers feel rushed during delivery, making it tough to review tickets thoroughly and decide if a dispute is worth their time. This feeling seemed to be unanimous. 

What if there was a system in place to have standardized training for graders? In almost every profession, there are licenses and certificates one can obtain. Why is that not the case for graders? Each buyer could have a certified grader on staff, trained directly by the Canadian Grain Commission. This would increase consistency for grading and hold buyers accountable.

With this system, if enough discrepancies are found, according to the CGC dispute system, an evaluation of the certified grader could be completed, and perhaps further action could be taken.

N. Gossner

Muenster, Sask.


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