Alot can be learned while waiting in line at the elevator. One day I observed elevator employees climbing up on the top of a large semitrailer to probe a load of wheat for samples.
For most small elevators, this would be considered unusual since the typical load is sampled as it is dumped into the pit. What was even more unusual was that after much backroom discussion, this particular commercial trucker was asked to leave, with the load still on his truck.
It seems that the producer who loaded the semi had a reputation for “pushing his luck.” I later learned that the load had been contracted as CWRS milling wheat, but that it actually contained a significant amount of winter wheat.
Had this load made its way into the same elevator bin that the rest of us were waiting to fill, it could have caused some serious problems, and made for some very unhappy farmers and grain company employees.
Apparently the individuals who get loads returned and contracts cancelled aren’t happy about the process either, as evidenced by the latest multimillion- dollar lawsuit against the Canadian Wheat Board. So why is the CWB being sued? Because it’s an easy target.
Quality control measures don’t start and end with board grains, nor are they specific to grading standards. You can’t deliver pigeons to a pork plant for pork, you can’t deliver milling oats that are full of wild oats for milling oats, you can’t sell malting barley full of feed barley for malt, you can’t sell canola with deregistered varieties or lindane in it, and you can’t sell anything into a food or feed market with seed treatments on it.
Realistically, if we are not going to maintain a quality standard, to what level do we allow it to slip? If a farmer has the “right” to dump whatever he wants into the elevator pit, what is the end product going to look like, and who is going to want to buy it? There is a fine line between blending and committing food terrorism.
I don’t have a problem with farmers wanting to grow unregistered varieties. Feed it to your livestock or sell it to a local feed mill. If you seriously want to niche market, then find the niche that accepts it.
When I do have a problem is when someone knowingly attempts to contaminate a shipment of grain with products that should not be in there.
If you want to grow an unregistered variety, then keep it the hell out of my shipment of CWRS. I should not have to bear the financial consequences of a shipload of product being downgraded or returned because somebody else mixed my grain with an inferior product that could not meet specifications set out for CWRS milling wheat.
We are not in the business of exporting Chinese milk. Canadian grains are known worldwide for quality, and without that quality, we will lose market share. I fully appreciate that accidents can happen, but the Triffid flax fiasco earlier this year has clearly demonstrated that any failure to maintain quality standards can have a serious impact on the integrity of our system, and the returns for our producers.
I am getting fed up with the people who think they should be able to do whatever they please as long as they can stand up and bellow “Freeeedom….” like Braveheart when they get caught. You can’t drive an unregistered vehicle down the road without facing the potential consequences. Drive it on your own farm and everything is fine. That is the extent of your freedom. You are free to grow a non-registered variety, just keep it on the farm and out of the delivery system.
My support for quality control goes beyond my needs as a farmer, I am also a consumer. When I sit down for my toast and coffee in the morning, I want to know that my toast is going to taste like it did yesterday. I want to know that it doesn’t contain melamine, unregistered herbicides or grains that could affect its flavour or milling characteristics.
We are in the business of selling high-quality food, and consumers expect us to adhere to the standards we have set for ourselves. I don’t want anything in that shipment of grain that I would not eat myself.
The disturbing part of this story is that people continue to misrepresent what they are contracting. Maybe this demonstrates a need for stricter enforcement or higher penalties.
The truly sad part of this whole scenario is that every farmer delivering wheat or barley into the CWB catchment area is going to pay their share of the expenses in fighting this legal action. I suppose given the social climate we should be thankful the CWB wasn’t blamed for the Pigeon King fiasco and dragged into that impending trial as well… after all, we should all have the “freedom” to deliver anything we want, shouldn’t we? Les McEwan farms
Weareinthebusiness ofsellinghigh-quality food,andconsumers expectustoadhereto thestandardswehave setforourselves.Idon’t wantanythinginthat shipmentofgrainthat Iwouldnoteatmyself.