CWB shows flexibility to ensure farmers' grain moves

Date: December 13, 2000

Winnipeg - The Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) announced today it would delay the implementation of the car awards program as a result of several grain companies refusal to handle farmers’ grain.

The car awards program was designed to distribute rail cars to grain companies based on where farmers signed their contract and delivered grain. Members of the Western Grain Elevator Association (WGEA) have indicated they will refuse to load farmers’ grain unless the program is based on historical entitlements.

Over the course of the last several months, the CWB has made changes to the program reflecting concerns the WGEA has raised. Despite this, Saskatchewan Wheat Pool, United Grain Growers, James Richardson International, Agricore, Cargill, Parrish and Heimbecker, Paterson Grain, ConAgra, Weyburn Inland Terminal, and Louis Dreyfus threatened to go on strike this week if the CWB proceeded with implementation. If the companies followed through on their threats it would result in lost sales opportunities, damage customer relations and make farmer deliveries into the grain elevator system significantly more difficult.

"We designed the car awards program to give farmers some much needed control in the transportation system and still think it is a good, commercial way of awarding rail cars," said CEO Greg Arason. "However, we aren’t willing to jeopardize farmers’ livelihoods. As a result of the strike threat, we will delay the program to ensure farmers’ grain continues to move and customers’ orders are filled."

The CWB expects that in delaying this program, the companies will negotiate in good faith from this point forward.

"We will continue working toward a commercial system that serves the interests of farmers," said Arason.

Greg Arason will answer media questions on this subject via teleconference at 3:30 p.m. today. If you wish to register please contact Justin Kohlman at (204) 983-3101.

The CWB is the world’s largest farmer-controlled wheat and barley marketer. Headquartered in Winnipeg, Manitoba, it is one of Canada’s biggest exporters and the largest net earner of foreign currency. Marketing Prairie-grown wheat and barley to over 70 countries around the world, the CWB returns all sales revenue, lessthe costs of marketing, to farmers in Western Canada.