Watering grain jeopardizes quality and reputation

Adding moisture to grain to bring it up to optimum weight is technically illegal, but… | File photo

Everyone seems to know hydrating grain is illegal but few seem to know what the law says or how strictly it is enforced, if at all.

“If you’re found to be knowingly watering grain out of a hose, you could likely be found to be in contravention of the Canada Grain Act,” said Derek Bunkowsky, chief grain inspector at the Canadian Grain Commission.

He said the biggest concern is the risk of grain being contaminated from a water source. With all the attention given to food safety in recent years, Bunkowsky said the industry does not need a big story about water creating a health risk in grains.

“I want to make this clear to farmers. We have never charged anyone with watering grain. We’ve heard that it happens, but we’ve never been shown documented proof. All the evidence is hearsay and anecdotal.

“Even if there was a clear-cut case of a farmer in contravention of the act, the CGC is not in the business of finding and prosecuting people. Rather, we want to take an educational approach and explain the potential negative impact.”

Bunkowsky said he has fielded calls from farmers and grain buyers over the years who ask why watering is illegal.

“Our biggest concern at the CGC is bacterial contamination brought in through dugout water, well water, lake water or from rivers and streams. The second concern is grain spoiling even if it’s been watered with perfectly clean water.

“If an elevator operator knows that a load has been watered, it’s within his right to refuse the delivery.”

Though a producer can be found in contravention of the act and be found liable, the CGC prefers to take an educational approach.

According to Section 107 (2) of the Canada Grain Act: Every person who contravenes any provision of this Act, other than section 72, or of the regulations or any order of the Commission, other than an order for the payment of any money or apportionment of any loss, is guilty of an offence and

(a) if an individual, is liable

(i) on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding $6,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year, or to both, or

(ii) on conviction on indictment, to a fine not exceeding $12,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, or to both; or

(b) if a corporation, is liable

(i) on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding $9,000, or

(ii) on conviction on indictment, to a fine not exceeding $18,000.

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