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Marketing Survey Not Supported

The canola growers’ associations in Saskatchewan and Alberta are distancing themselves from efforts from a group of Manitoba growers who want to try marketing the crop through the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB).

Last week the Manitoba Canola Growers Association (MCGA) ran a survey in the Manitoba Co-operatorand Western Producerasking how many tonnes of canola farmers grow and how many they’d want to sell through the CWB voluntarily.

The Saskatchewan Canola Development Commission (SaskCanola) and Alberta Canola Producers Commission (ACPC) issued statements in support of the current open market for canola.

“We just wanted to clear the air and clear up any uncertainty about what our position was,” SaskCanola chair Brett Halstead said in an interview April 10 from his farm near Nokomis, Sask.

SaskCanola’s office and directors were getting calls from Saskatchewan farmers about the survey and whether SaskCanola was helping to fund it.

The same was happening with ACPC, its general manager Ward Toma said.

“The ACPC supports the marketing of canola by farmers in an open market as it always has been done and advocates within the grains and oilseeds industry and to government that it remains that way,” the ACPC said in a news release.

While SaskCanola and ACPC were aware of the MCGA’s plans for a survey, they are not involved in the survey, nor are they helping to pay for it.

Some people thought the survey was an April Fool’s joke. After all, canola production has been increasing and so have prices. What’s not to like about the current system?

But when MCGA members passed a resolution in 2006 asking the association to seek marketing alternatives, canola prices were depressed. Some canola growers wondered if grain companies that also owned crushing plants might prefer to keep prices low to enhance their crush margins.

Some open-market supporters are suspicious about the motives for using the CWB to market canola voluntarily. But MCGA director Butch Harder has said some farmers believe the CWB might add competition and make it easier for farmers to sell their canola through producer cars and farmer-owned inland terminals.

The MCGA has not said how many tonnes of canola are needed before the CWB would engage in a pilot canola-marketing project.

Critics say the survey is too general and unscientific.

Farmers have until April 30 to submit their survey responses. [email protected]

About the author

Reporter

Allan Dawson is a reporter with the Manitoba Co-operator based near Miami, Man. Covering agriculture since 1980, Dawson has spent most of his career with the Co-operator except for several years with Farmers’ Independent Weekly and before that a Morden-Winkler area radio station.

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