WINNIPEG — The Canadian Wheat Board has outlined its plan for a western wheat and barley market it no longer monopolizes.
The board will offer both pool and cash contracts for the crop year that starts Aug. 1. It will sign agreements with grain-handling companies that are sometimes its competition and will continue to cut jobs as it deals with a newly open market.
“The role of the wheat board is really going to be determined by what farmers want us to do,” board president and CEO Ian White said Thursday.
“If farmers are interested in our programs, which we sincerely hope they will be, then they will want to sign contracts with us.”
For more than six decades, western wheat and barley farmers were forced to sell through the wheat board. The federal government passed a law late last year to open the market to competition as of this summer.
The change means the wheat board will compete for sales against grain-handling companies, many of whom the board relies on for grain transportation.
“A key within the handling-agreement discussions is determining … where we’re competing with a company and where we’re co-operating with a company,” said Ward Weisensel, the board’s chief operating officer.
The board signed one such deal with Cargill earlier this month and expects to soon have deals in place with all grain handlers on the Prairies, Weisensel said.
As for programs, the board is offering producers two pools: one for the short term in which delivery is guaranteed by Jan 31 and a longer-term one that runs until the end of the crop year in July 2013. There are more than a dozen reference grades for various types of wheat and barley.
The board continues to be the only option for producers who want the security of price pools, White said.
“Our pools will ensure that farmers are never forced to settle for the bottom of the market or chase an elusive market high.”
The board is also offering a range of cash contracts, some with fixed prices and some that adjust.