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When selling your grain, knowledge is power

Canadian Grain Commission experts shared their insights at a ‘grading school’ in Brandon

When selling grain ‘forewarned is forearmed,” and the Canadian Grain Commission (CGC) can help farmers with that.

“We really encourage you to know what you have before you start delivering so you know if you’re getting a fair deal there (at the elevator) or not,” Chris Fleury, a CGC inspection trainer told farmers attending a ‘grading school’ organized by the Manitoba Canola Growers and Manitoba Wheat and Barley Growers associations here Dec. 7.

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Western grain growers can get a free grain grade from the CGC through its annual harvest sample program. And while the grade is unofficial because it wasn’t collected by the CGC and it only applies to the sample submitted, farmers can use it as a benchmark when negotiating with grain buyers, added CGC inspection specialist Usman Mohammad.

This fall the CGC received 13,000 grain samples through its harvest sample program.

The CGC uses the samples to assess new crop quality and inform Canadian grain customers what to expect, Mohammad told the meeting.

Some of the grain is also used for CGC research and special projects, including putting together standard samples of various degrading factors CGC and private grain inspectors use as visual tools when grading.

Farmers can also pay the CGC $50.07, plus GST, to provide an unofficial grade, and in the case of wheat, the percentage of dockage and the moisture and protein content.

“You might be able to negotiate for better payment with this (CGC) certificate,” Mohammad said.

Samples can be sent to the CGC’s service centres in Weyburn and Saskatoon, Sask. and Calgary, Alta. (Go to the CGC website for more details.)

The CGC usually issues certificates in one to two working days. They can be mailed or emailed to the farmer.

Whenever submitting samples ensuring it’s representative of what’s being sold is critical, Fleury stressed.

“Key to having representative samples is sampling often and having a good mix and breaking it down in a way that maintains its representativeness,” he said.

That means making sure the main sample is representative. One way to break large samples down is to set two boxes beside each other then pouring it evenly into each box. The process can be repeated until a number of one-kilogram samples have been made.

The CGC needs at least one kilogram of grain for grading. It’s important that the sample be identified and that identification be included in the submission form.

Whether farmers have a CGC grade before they deliver or not, they can also ask that a representative sample be submitted to the CGC for grading if they feel the licensed primary elevator hasn’t graded it properly. The provision, which also applies to the grain’s moisture and protein content, is called ‘subject to inspector’s grade and dockage.’ It’s a farmer’s right enshrined in the Canada Grain Act, Fleury said. The CGC’s finding is final.

Fleury said farmers have told him they are reluctant to take such action because they don’t want to undermine their relationship with grain buyers.

“But that definitely is a right that you guys have,” he said.

It’s important that grain buyers also take representative samples of farmers, grain when it’s being unloaded in the elevator, Fleury said. The CGC doesn’t regulate how grain buyers sample unloads, he said, adding if it was his grain he’d want it hand sampled rather than probed.

“The more samples you take the better,” Fleury said. “The key is to do it consistently throughout the unload. Don’t take five scoops at the beginning and wait to the very end to take one more. It should be done throughout. If a probe is being used it shouldn’t be just in one spot in the truck.”

It’s also the farmer’s right to be present when the sample from his unloaded grain is being graded and checked for dockage, Mohammad said.

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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