Farmers resist push to cut grain inspections

Grain handlers say customers don’t always want the CGC inspection, but producers insist it is a ‘Canadian seal’ of quality. | File photo

Grain handlers say customers don’t always want the CGC inspection, but producers insist it is a ‘Canadian seal’ of quality

Manitoba farmers are still skeptical of grain company efforts to eliminate Canadian Grain Commission outward inspections in Vancouver.

During the Keystone Agricultural Producers annual meeting, president Bill Campbell pressed an elevator company representative on why the grain-handling industry is so keen to eliminate a “Canadian seal” of quality.

“We do not wish to lose markets because of somebody else’s actions,” said Campbell in response to a presentation by Jennifer Marchand of Cargill, who represented the Western Grain Elevator Association.

“I guess we have held the grain commission and the outward inspection as a Canadian seal of what is a product of Canada.”

Marchand said in many cases overseas customers want a third-party inspection, not a CGC inspection, and that having the CGC inspection is both redundant and causes delays by involving a less flexible service provider.

Most importers don’t require a CGC inspection, said Marchand, and are happy with third-party inspections.

With the CGC regulating and overseeing the third-party inspectors, the CGC inspections aren’t necessary to preserve quality assurance. Third-parties are trusted.

“There are ways and models where that’s still effective,” said Marchand.

Campbell said he was surprised that importers would not want a CGC inspection.

“If a Canadian seal by a Canadian institution is not accepted by a buyer, then why (is) that?” said Campbell.

Marchand said all parts of the grain supply chain suffer if quality is not as advertised, so there are incentives for everybody to focus on preserving quality assessments’ validity. Nobody wants to get rid of a good quality system.

“That’s a non-discussion point and it’s necessary,” said Marchand.

With a review of the Canada Grain Act underway, now is the time to set up the regulatory system for today and future, she said.

“Many things have changed (since the current system was created in 1971,) and it’s an excellent opportunity to look at today’s current state for the entire value chain and create a right-placed regulatory organization that protects growers, the value chain and the success of the Canadian grain industry,” said Marchand.

The WGEA is engaged in a campaign to get better representation of western Canadian provinces and industries on the port of Vancouver’s board of directors because that’s where its business comes from.

“The vast majority of them also originate from the four western provinces, and the WGEA is concerned by the lack of representation on the port’s board of directors for the economic regions and sectors that rely on that gateway,” said Marchand.

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