The Inland Terminal Association of Canada (ITAC) says what it calls “massive” price increases proposed for Canadian Grain Commission user fees are ill-conceived and counterproductive, and should be an election issue. ITAC represents 11 inland grain terminal companies that are at least 50 per cent owned by farmers.
In a release, ITAC said that recent public consultations on CGC fees were designed in such a way that the commission had no choice but to recommend fee increases that result in cost recovery. Its proposal calls for a massive fee increase starting in 2012, with relatively small increases of 1.6 per cent a year for the following four years, ultimately meaning 100 per cent cost recovery from producers.
ITAC noted that the federal government’s Growing Forward 2 consultation document stresses the importance of government expenditures which support food safety and quality as well as international trade. “If this is deemed to be the appropriate direction for agricultural policy in Canada, the proposed fee increases for CGC services are a contradiction,” ITAC said.
It said the $54-million shortfall in CGC cost recovery is minor relative to the overall cost of business risk management programs, and noted that government expenditures for services such as grading and testing are considered trade neutral, or “green box” under World Trade Organization rules.
ITAC said it urges all parties to make public support of CGC services part of their election platform. It also called for operational savings such as third-party grain inspection and grading and allowing the CGC to inspect and weigh multiple rail cars as a single lot.