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Wrong Wheat Delivery Fines Uncertain

“Details have to be developed after the bill receives royal assent. Then we would draft corresponding regulations….

– REMI GOSSELIN

A lot of western Canadian farmers are under the impression they’ll face big fines for delivering the wrong wheat to an elevator if C-13, a bill to amend the Canada Grain Act, becomes law.

It’s true the amendments propose the maximum penalty for a summary conviction under the act be raised to $50,000 from $9,000, while the maximum fine for an indictable conviction would jump to $200,000 from $18,000. But the federal government hasn’t decided whether or not the fines will apply to farmers who deliver wheat to the wrong class, Canadian Grain Commission (CGC) spokesman Remi Gosselin said in an interview March 10.

“Details have to be developed after the bill receives royal assent. Then we would draft corresponding regulations and this process involves consultations (with farmers, grain companies and others in the grain industry),” he said.

Since KVD was scrapped last year, farmers have had to declare the wheat they deliver belongs to the class to which they are delivering. Grain companies and the Canadian Wheat Board have emphasized farmers who misrepresent their deliveries, even unintentionally, could be sued for the damages caused.

Bill C-13 brings in the Administrative Monetary Penalties Act (AMP). What’s not certain is which violations would be penalized using AMPs, Gosselin said.

The Western Grain Elevator Association wants the CGC to fine farmers who misrepresent wheat deliveries, even if unintentional as a deterrent and incentive to be careful.

But industry observers say grain companies would prefer the CGC penalize farmers so the companies wouldn’t have to sue farmers themselves.

The WGEA believes AMPs would apply to misrepresented wheat deliveries if C-13 becomes law. What’s not clear, according to WGEA executive director Wade Sobkowich is whether fines would apply if the misrepresentation was an accident.

“AMPS appears to apply to both fraudulent and neglectful behaviour, but the wording in the Canada Grain Act says ‘knowingly,’ so there’s inconsistency,” he said in an interview March 9.

“The losses derived from a misdeclaration are the same regardless of whether an individual intended on improperly declaring or did so due to neglectful behaviour.”

Proving someone intended to misrepresent a wheat delivery could prove as difficult as proving someone intended to exceed the speed limit while driving. That’s why police aren’t required to prove speeders intended to speed to win a conviction.

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About the author

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Allan Dawson

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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