Churchill’s port may not survive the dismantling of the Canadian Wheat Board, says Manitoba’s minister through Churchill, then this port doesn’t have a very bright future.”
Last week, the MV Pacific Bulker loaded approximately 27,000 tonnes of Canada Western Red Spring wheat destined for Nigeria.
Wheat and barley represent most of Churchill’s traffic, Struthers noted.
“So there will be serious consequences if the federal Conservatives continue on the destructive course that they are on.”
Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz says he will introduce legislation this fall to end the CWB’s monopoly on the sale of western Canadian wheat and barley destined for export or domestic human consumption effective Aug. 1, 2012.
Ritz says the CWB can operate in an open market. Struthers disagrees.
“The Australian experience taught us the lesson that you can’t just pull the single-desk advantage of a wheat board and somehow expect it to continue on as some sort of marketing club,” he said. “It will hurt this port up here at Churchill. It will hurt western Canadian farmers.”
Struthers says it’s cheaper for farmers in northwestern Manitoba and eastern Saskatchewan to export grain through Churchill instead of the St. Lawrence Seaway shipping costs. However, CWB chair Allen Oberg has said grain companies don’t favour Churchill because they want to maximize use and earnings from their own terminals at other ports.
Last year Churchill exported 656,298 tonnes of grain, second only to the record 729,000 tonnes shipped in 1977. Six hundred thousand tonnes of that grain were wheat and durum exported by the CWB, up from 529,000 tonnes of wheat shipped in 2009. For the first time in three years, the port also handled some non-board crops – 43,000 tonnes of canola and 12,000 tonnes of human-grade peas – in 2010. (For competitive reasons a port official declined to name the shipper or the destination.) [email protected]