More market transparency needed

Grain act reviews trigger farmer calls for more grain sales data collection

Western grain farmers need more timely information about grain sales and exports to improve market transparency and returns to farmers, the Saskatchewan Wheat Development Commission (Sask Wheat) says in its submission on changes to the Canada Grain Act and Canadian Grain Commission (CGC).

The Agricultural Producers of Saskatchewan (APAS) and the National Farmers Union (NFU) say the same in their submissions.

They also also want the CGC to take it on.

“The current marketing year, with large increases in the value of primary elevator bids in some crops that were not forecast in publicly available market information, has greatly illustrated the need for improved market transparency and how valuable this would be to farmers and, by extension, the Canadian economy,” Sask Wheat’s submission says. “Without timely available data on export sales, farmers are unable to accurately understand market dynamics and time their sales to improve profits.”

The CGC currently provides export figures from licensed terminals but doesn’t report current sales so farmers are unable to gauge current demand.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Export Sales Reporting Program monitors U.S. export sales on a daily and weekly basis for 40 commodities, Sask Wheat’s submission says. It gives farmers up-to-date market information and provides a public good as an early alert system for any potential impact foreign sales have on U.S. supplies and prices.

“Daily export sales reports would include sales tonnages by destination,” their submission notes.

Sask Wheat hired Mercantile Consulting Venture Inc., to do a report of collecting grain sales data and included it in its submission.

Sask Wheat said it backs Mercantile’s recommendation for the mini- mum export sales volumes reported to be 10,000 tonnes for grains and oilseeds.

The weekly reports would include cumulative sales for the week by commodity and end destination.

Sask Wheat is not proposing export prices be collected and reported.

Nevertheless, the Western Grain Elevator Association (WGEA) is leery.

“If not done properly, mandatory sales reporting has the potential of revealing commercially sensitive data in Canada in a way that distorts the marketplace, or provides our competitors in other grain-producing nations with a competitive advantage in the global marketplace,” the WGEA’s submission says.

Export and country grain prices could easily be taken out of context, the submission says.

“We fear they will use this information to create public controversy, and attempt to influence public policy with the objective of artificially narrowing the gap between country elevator prices and export prices.

“The best assurance that producers are getting the best price possible is a competitive marketplace.”

About the author

Reporter

Allan Dawson

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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