Provincial wheat checkoffs to remain about $1 per tonne

Western Canadian farmers currently pay two checkoffs worth about $1 per tonne. After Aug. 1, there will be one checkoff that may increase slightly, depending on provincial fee increases.  |  File photo

It looks like wheat growers across Western Canada will continue to pay levies of about $1 per tonne on wheat sales.

That’s because the Alberta Wheat Commission, the Saskatchewan Wheat Development Commission and the Manitoba Wheat and Barley Growers Association an-nounced earlier this month that they plan to boost their provincial levies Aug. 1 when the Western Canadian Deduction (WCD) expires.

The WCD is a 48 cent per tonne levy applied to all wheat delivered to a licensed grain dealer.

It was introduced as a temporary measure in 2012 to ensure stable funding for the Canadian International Grains Institute (CIGI) and the Western Grains Research Foundation (WGRF).

It is due to expire on July 31, but provincial wheat commissions in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba have decided to “absorb the responsibilities and financial obligations” of the deduction.

“The three western provincial wheat commissions are now well established and have the ability to absorb the funding obligations of the WCD,” said SaskWheat chair Bill Gehl in a Jan. 10 news release.

“This will mean greater efficiency and will lead to more producer dollars being spent on research, variety development and market de-velopment activities.”

Harvey Brooks, general manager of SaskWheat, said the three provincial wheat commissions wanted to assure CIGI and the WGRF that their funding would be maintained.

“We wanted to make sure that (CIGI) understands that we are preparing for full continuity and that any researchers that are currently funded under the WGRF understand that there will be capacity there to continue operations,” he said.

For western Canadian wheat farmers, the decision to assume WCD funding responsibilities will not mean an increase in overall producer levies on wheat.

Western Canadian farmers currently have two wheat checkoffs on their grain cash tickets — a provincial checkoff worth 52 cents per tonne or more and the WCD worth 48 cents per tonne.

After Aug. 1, only one checkoff will appear on grain cash tickets but total levies will remain at current levels, around $1 per tonne of wheat sold.

For the commissions, this will involve increasing their current provincial levies beginning Aug. 1.

Saskatchewan wheat growers approved the proposed fee increase during SaskWheat’s annual general meeting in Saskatoon Jan. 10.

Manitoba producers have already approved a similar fee increase and the Alberta Wheat Commission is expected to vote on a similar fee increase later this month at its annual meeting in Edmonton.

In a Jan. 16 email, AWC communications manager Amanda Ryan said the AWC’s governance committee will propose that a single levy of $1.09 per tonne be applied on all wheat sales made after Aug. 1.

Alberta Wheat chair Kevin Auch said the agreement signifies that wheat commissions in all three provinces are committed to working together to provide continuity for the important functions provided by the organizations currently receiving transitional funding from the WCD.

Before 2012, both CIGI and the WGRF received funding through a levy that was applied by the Canadian Wheat Board.

When the CWB was eliminated in 2012, Ottawa introduced the temporary Western Canadian Deduction to ensure that CIGI and WGRF operations would remain fully funded.

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