An abrupt about-face!

An abrupt about-face!
Jul 28, 2023

Per stakeholder concerns, the Canadian Grain Commission has changed its mind and repealed the alignment of primary and export tolerances for test weight and total foreign material for some wheat classes.

By Andrew Joseph,; Maksym Belchenko/iStock/Getty Images Plus photo

In response to stakeholder concerns, the Canadian Grain Commission (CGC) is repealing the alignment of primary and export tolerances for test weight and total foreign material for all grades of the following classes of wheat:

  • Canada Western Red Spring (CWRS);
  • Canada Western Hard White Spring (CWHWS);
  • Canada Western Extra Strong (CWES);
  • Canada Western Soft White Spring (CWSWS);
  • Canada Northern Hard Red (CNHR)

The alignment of total foreign material tolerances for Canada Western Amber Durum (CWAD) is also being repealed.

The CGC is the federal agency responsible for establishing and maintaining Canada’s grain quality standards. Its programs result in shipments of grain that consistently meet contract specifications for quality, safety, and quantity. The Canadian Grain Commission regulates the grain industry to protect producers’ rights and ensure the integrity of grain transactions.

On July 26, 2023, the National Farmers Union (NFU) and the Wheat Growers Association (WGA) sent a letter to new federal Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay to request that he stop the Canadian Grain Commission’s decision to impose a grade standard on wheat being delivered to elevators in Canada.

It was feared that this new rule would have a huge and long-term negative effect on the income of prairie wheat farmers.

The National Farmers Union and the Wheat Growers Association requested that the change to grain standards be halted until all stakeholders of the WGA’s Western Standards Committee can review the impact of such a move.

The Canadian Grain Commission was formally "harmonizing" the primary and export standards for wheat as of August 1, 2023.

"When a farmer brings their grain to the elevator, there are several different measurements taken in order to grade it," explained the NFU’s Glenn Tait, who sits on the Western Standards Committee. "These measurements include bushel weight, number of wheat kernels of other classes, total foreign material, and so on. Grades reflect quality and largely determine the prices paid to farmers. Grades are regulated by the CGC to uphold Canada’s grain quality standards in export markets."

Daryl Fransoo, WGA Chair, added: "Farmers across the prairies will soon be harvesting wheat that under the current rules would be graded as #1, but as of August 1, 2023, they will be forced to sell it at lower prices as a #2 instead, if the changes set by the Canadian Grain Commission (CGC) come into effect as planned."

The new harmonized test weight standard means that CWRS wheat (hard red spring wheat used for baking bread) must weigh at least 63.3 lbs/bushel when delivered to the elevator instead of the current standard of 60.1 lbs/bushel, or it will be downgraded to a #2.

Currently, the benchmarks for country elevator grades are slightly lower than the official export grades for bulk wheat when it is loaded onto ships.

"Due to variations in growing conditions and thus for wheat crop quality across the prairies, loads that grade #1 under current rules often exceed the minimum standards, allowing grain companies to blend country deliveries to ensure the export standard is met when they assemble shipments at their port terminals," stated Terry Boehm, a former NFU President. "The new CGC grade standard change will take money from farmers pockets."

For now, the CGC has listened to its stakeholders and has reversed course—for now—on deploying the standards for August 1.

"The majority of the farmers on the CGC Western Standards Committee were opposed to these changes. These are the farmers that represent the many prairie farmers who would be negatively impacted by the proposed changes," summed up Fransoo.

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