REGINA — Plans to build a $50-million pasta-processing plant in Regina have been put on the back burner.
Alliance Grain Traders says the project announced last October by Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been put on hold until 2013.
The company says in a news release it wants time to monitor developments in the North American grain industry.
Harper said the pasta plant proved the benefits of dismantling the Canadian Wheat Board’s single-desk market.
The chair of the Canadian Wheat Board Alliance says the delay of the project is directly linked to the end of the board’s monopoly.
Bill Gehl says that small grain processors such as Alliance Grain Traders need the fairness of a single-desk market to survive.
“Our wheat board had a policy of treating all processors equally, so large processors could not obtain volume discounts from farmers and push out smaller operations, and now that fairness will end with the single desk,” Gehl said in a release.
Murad Al-Katib, CEO of Alliance Grain Traders, said management believes it’s wise to focus on the company’s balance sheet and “improve our business metrics” before proceeding.
“Pending developments, such as the de-monopolization of the Canadian Wheat Board and the proposed sale of Viterra to Glencore, as well as the free-trade negotiations between Canada and the European Union, will continue to reshape the landscape of the industry,” he said.
Al-Katib added that planning and design work for “larger projects” such as the pasta plant “will continue so that they are ready for implementation when we feel it is the right time to do so.”