Canadian Grain Commission says producers could benefit from surplus

WINNIPEG _ The Canadian Grain Commission says farmers could benefit from a big surplus the agency has accumulated.

Remi Gosselin, a spokesman for the commission, says the federal agency had a $95 million surplus as of March 31, 2016.

He says that figure is expected to be higher when the latest figures are compiled this spring.

The Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association says the surplus is unnecessary and has called on the commission to lower rates and give producers refunds.

Gosselin says the commission plans to consult with producers and grain handling companies on a new fee schedule that could include lower rates.

He says the agency would also consider rebates and other options including spending more on grain research.

“There is certainly the potential of lowering fees _ we want to hear what our stakeholders have to say,” Gosselin said Thursday.

“In addition to proposing new fees we are also currently examining potential options to use the accumulated surplus.”

Gosselin said consultations with companies and producer groups on a new fee schedule for 2018-2023 will begin early this year on the rates that are paid for the weighing and inspection of grain that is to be exported.

He said the surplus was caused by higher than expected grain volumes over the past few years and lower than expected spending by the commission.

A decision on the new fee schedule and the surplus is expected before April 2018, he said.

The wheat growers association has called the surplus “enormous” and “shocking” and has launched a petition to drive home its call for lower fees and refunds.