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ILTA Grain’s financial troubles raises questions about canary seed

Case raises questions about which crops should be covered by the CGC’s protection plan

It doesn’t matter how much security ILTA Grain posted to cover what it owes farmers, those who delivered canary seed won’t see a penny through the Canadian Grain Commission’s (CGC) farm protection program.

That’s because canary seed isn’t one of the 20 crops covered under the Canada Grain Act and therefore is ineligible to security if a licensed grain company fails to pay farmers for their grain.

But ILTA Grain’s financial woes have revived questions about adding canary seed to the Canada Grain Act and is almost certain to do the same for the Canadian Grain Commission’s (CGC) producer protection program.

“The ILTA thing is reverberating through the entire grain industry,” Kevin Hursh, executive director of the Canary Seed Development Commission of Saskatchewan, said in an interview. “Even people who sold them (ILTA) licensed and bonded crops are probably wondering if they are going to recoup all of their money or not. It looks like canary seed producers, unless there is some miracle that falls from the sky, won’t recoup any of it.”

Hursh said he has spoken with farmers owed thousands of dollars for canary seed and he suspects some might want it added to the grain act.

Historically canary seed farmers generally supported keeping the crop outside the act thinking it might discourage buyers if they had to be CGC licensed and post security. But most buyers now are already licensed by the CGC for other crops so the extra cost connected to canary seed would be minimal, Hursh said.

“I do sense that perhaps the attitude has changed among producers this time around, but we need to gauge that and see what comes out at the annual meeting (in January),” he said.

Canary seed is a much bigger crop in Saskatchewan than Manitoba, where last year just under 1,600 acres were covered by crop insurance.

Part of the reason canary seed producers have been indifferent to CGC security is it looked like the program might be changed.

But after years of on-and-off discussions, in 2014 the CGC dropped a plan to develop an insurance-based security plan, saying it wouldn’t meet farmers’ needs.

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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