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Richardson tries its first Churchill run

Wheat destined for Colombia | Company says CWB changes open up new marketing opportunities

The shipping season at Churchill is underway and changes to the CWB and a federal incentive to keep the grain moving are having an effect.

A $9 per tonne federal government incentive makes shipping out of the northern port more attractive.

Churchill provides the shortest shipping distance to Europe from a Canadian port capable of handling bulk grain, but that is not the only destination for grain leaving the port.

On Aug. 25 a Panamanian registered bulk ship, the New Legend Pearl, left Churchill for Colombia with a 27,500 tonne load of No. 2 CWRS wheat.

Richardson International shipped the grain and despite having an 83 year history of using the port, it has not been a major exporter from the facility.

Terry James of Richardson said the changes to the CWB’s marketing powers have opened up new marketing opportunities.

“In the past, we would have had to buy the grain from the (Canadian Wheat Board) at Churchill and then move it to our destination customer,” he said.

“We’re seeing Churchill as a bigger opportunity for us now. We can use it more effectively than we could before.

“We have a lot of grain tributaries feeding into Churchill. More all the time now.

“We’re starting to do some new business there, and we think other grain companies might see that and do so as well,” said James.

He said the company plans additional shipments over the next few months.

The federal government’s incentive, up to $5 million per year, is guaranteed for the next four years.

The shipping season for Churchill typically ends at November. Anything after that usually requires ice-breaking services.

In 2011, the port shipped out more than 500,000 tonnes of grain and port officials expect a repeat, ensuring that more than 500,000 tonnes are shipped out again through Canada’s only deep-water, arctic port.

About 90 percent of the port’s grain business was in the past done by the Canadian Wheat Board.

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