Tom Steve never thought he'd see a review of the Canadian Grain Act.
The former broadcaster and now General Manager of the Alberta Wheat Commission was pleasantly surprised to hear federal Ag Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau announce the consultation period for the review. It will continue until the end of April, as the federal government looks for input from stakeholders on how to make the act better. It hasn't had any real changes made to it in nearly half a century.
Tom Steve shares what he thinks is the priority for the commission. "For the commissions that I represent, Alberta Wheat and Alberta Barley, right at the top of the list is the role of the Canadian Grain Commission. Whether they are an oversight agency and a service provider or simply an oversight agency. The grain commission in its current form does a little bit of both. On the service provider side, there are private companies that can deliver those grading services much more economically then a quasit government agency. The role itself of being the regulator and the service provider puts the grain commission in a fundamental conflict of interest as far as my boards are concerned because they set the rates and then they charge the rates."
Steve shares a couple other issues that are high on the agenda of the Alberta Wheat Commission. "One of them is the surplus that the Canadian Grain Commission has accumulated over the years. It's in the order of $140 Million dollars. They initiated a consultation on how to deal with that surplus three years ago and ultimately decided to sit on that money. It's really farmers money that was collected on inordinately high rates for inspections. We've argued that surplus should be paid down through lower inspection rates." The third item is the multiple inspections of grain vessels at ports in Canada. The commission inspects the vessel and then due to contract requirements has a third party company inspect the vessel. approximately 80 per cent of the vessels that haul Canadian grain from Canadian ports are inspected twice. Steve and the commission feel that this is a redundancy.Click here to see more...