The Canadian Wheat Board exported a higher-than-average 507,000 tonnes of wheat and durum through Manitoba s northern port of Churchill in 2011.
Sixteen ocean vessels loaded wheat or durum this year, bound for Europe, Africa or Latin America, but this year s tonnage was smaller than last year s 600,000 tonnes.
The wheat board is by far the biggest exporter at the port, and says it saves money for farmers compared with shipping through the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway.
Ottawa s move to end the board s monopoly in August 2012 jeopardizes the port s future, said chair Allen Oberg.
The economi c equat ion changes if the CWB winds down and grain companies start exporting Prairie wheat, said Oberg. Their business models are less focused on transportation costs which they can simply pass on to farmers and more focused on maximizing grain flow through their own port facilities.
The government has promised an economic incentive of up to $5 million per year for five years to support crop shipments through Churchill, but has not yet provided details.
Churchill, Canada s only Arctic seaport, is open during a limited ice-free period from around the end of July to early November.