Grain commission says what farm groups have been requesting this winter would require a change in legislation
Saskatchewan crop associations picked a good time to pass a resolution calling on the federal government to improve its weekly reporting of grain exports.
“What’s being requested in general would require some act changes because it’s not part of our mandate,” said Canadian Grain Commission spokesperson Remi Gosselin.
Fortunately, Agriculture Canada recently announced it was launching the consultation phase of the Canada Grain Act review.
The grain sector will be able to provide online feedback on how to reform the act through April 30, 2021.
Saskatchewan commodity groups say they want a system similar to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Export Sales Reporting Program.
That program requires U.S. exporters to report sales of a wide variety of crops every week and even daily when certain volume thresholds are met.
Gosselin said the CGC tracks grain movement on a weekly basis but it does not require sales declarations. That would require a change in legislation.
Brent Johnson, the Saskatchewan Barley Development Commission director who helped draft the resolution that was approved by a number of crop organizations in January, said there are shortcomings with the existing Grain Statistics Weekly report.
“From my understanding, and there are probably people better versed on this than I am, but my understanding is that the report that we get right now does not include all sales,” he said.
Gosselin said that is correct. The weekly report does not include container shipments. That is because the CGC does not regulate container-loading facilities.
“If stakeholder groups feel that there’s a need to gather information about containers but also have them be part of the official quality assessment system, that would require a legislative change,” he said.
The last attempt at a major overhaul of the Canada Grain Act was Bill C-48, which received its first reading in December 2014.
That bill died on the order paper in the summer of 2015 when then Prime Minister Stephen Harper dropped the writ for a federal election.
The bill would have created a new class of CGC licence for container-loading facilities, enabling the CGC to track container shipments on a weekly basis.
There is some reporting on container sales but not in a timely manner. Quorum Corp. reported that Canada shipped out 4.9 million tonnes of grain in containers in 2018-19.
Gosselin noted that the CGC tracks container movement in its monthly Exports of Canadian Grain and Wheat Flour report. That data is provided on a voluntary basis by the container-loading facilities.
Containers play a minor role in the movement of some cereals and oilseeds but a major one for crops like lentils and malt barley. Pulse Canada estimates that about 30 percent of pulses are shipped via containers.
Johnson said there is little in the way of price discovery for pulses and malt barley, so it would be nice to have a better idea of how much of those and other crops are being exported on a weekly basis.
“Every bit of knowledge that is given to the producer is just that much help and in certain circumstances it would make a difference,” he said.