After months of anticipation the CWB started offering new crop prices and contracts March 29.
Farmers can see what the CWB is offering under its Future First and deferred delivery price on its website (www.cwb.ca). The site has tools for calculating those prices based on grade (export position) and delivery month. Farmers must then confirm and lock in those prices formally with the CWB.
The Grain Growers of Canada welcomed the move.
“I would encourage farmers to look at their offerings,” said Grain Growers’ executive director Richard Phillips. “If farmers want the wheat board as an option they need to do business with them or they won’t be there.”
The CWB’s site doesn’t have a Pool Return Outlook for either of its two wheat pools (early delivery pool, which lasts four months or the Harvest pool, which runs over most of the crop year) or the malting barley pool. The CWB doesn’t want its competitors knowing how much it expects to earn from the pools, Neil Townsend, the CWB’s North American market analyst, told farmers at a meeting March 30. After the deadline to join the pool passes pool participants will be updated on sales and the potential return, Townsend said.
“You’ve got to remember that information is going to be critically important in the new system,” he said. “And that’s one thing about the wheat board, we still have a lot of information.”
The CWB is going to share some of its market and weather intelligence with farmers through a weekly newsletter, but it’s going to cost $600 a year. Non-farmer Canadians will pay $900, foreigners $1,200 and the starting price for grain companies is $2,500.
The CWB will also charge a fee to have conference calls with CWB analysts, Townsend said.
“Tradition doesn’t matter anymore,” he said. “We’re not going to give information away free. People’s jobs depend on it.
“We have to justify our existence and we have to pay our staff so that’s why we’re trying to do this.”
This summer the CWB intends to market canola too. Prices will be based off Vancouver — the “international basis,” said CWB president and CEO Ian White.
Farmers sometimes complain the difference between cash and canola futures prices is too big. The CWB hopes its offering proves to be “a good check for what is being offered in the country,” White said.
The CWB is basing its cash wheat prices off values in-store Vancouver and Thunder Bay. Townsend said if the CWB can get seven million or eight million tonnes of grain then the rest of the industry will have no choice but to work closely with the upstart grain company.
“Let me tell you, there’s no way all the grain can get down through the U.S. either,” he said. “The Americans are not into that kind of stuff to see everybody just driving their grain down to the U.S. Grain will be easier to come up from the U.S. than down to the U.S. that’s one thing.”