CALGARY, AB: Today, the Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association reiterated their call for an immediate reduction—and refund—of Grain Commission user fees that have been overcharged to grain farmers to the tune of an incredible $100 million.
“Since calling for a reduction and refund of farmers’ money earlier this month, we’ve learned more, and it isn’t good news,” said Levi Wood, President of the Wheat Growers and grain farmer at Pense, Saskatchewan. “Not only has the average western grain farmer been overcharged tens of thousands of their hard-earned dollars in user fees in the past few years, but those fees are set to rise this year, which is just going to increase that giant pile of farmers’ money.”
Farmers are currently being charged about $1.80 per tonne of grain delivered, which are for inspection and weighing certification of grain being sold for export at port position. An average grower who delivered 5,500 tonnes of grain to an elevator for export in the past year would have paid about $10,000 in these user fees in just one year, ultimately creating this now $100 million surplus, which will no doubt accumulate much higher in 2017.
“User fees are for a specific purpose, which in this case is supposed to pay for Commission operations with respect to inspection and weighing certification for grain sold for export at port position,” said Stephen Vandervalk, Alberta Director of the Wheat Growers and grain farmer at Fort Macleod, Alberta. “Those user fees aren’t for anything else, and for the Commission to suggest that farmers’ money might be spent elsewhere is not just unfair but, quite frankly, it also raises other questions.”
The Commission appears to be out of step with the spirit, if not the letter, of the federal User Fees Act. In addition, the Commission is accumulating a surplus in a manner and to an extent that is inconsistent with recent rulings of the Supreme Court of Canada.
“Farmers could be spending that money in their communities right now, on new equipment, on inputs such as seeds and fertilizer,” said Wood. “Instead, the hoard of farmers’ hard-earned cash keeps growing in a vault in Winnipeg or Ottawa. That’s not fair to farmers, and it’s not right.”
The Wheat Growers launched a petition earlier this month, asking all western grain growers to join with them in requesting an immediate reduction in user fees and a refund of the surplus back to farmers. The petition can be signed by western grain growers at: userfees.wheatgrowers.ca
“There shouldn’t have to be a long drawn out consultation process now on how to spend our money on more government infrastructure or programs or whatever, and they should know very well where those funds came from,” said Vandervalk. “Hundreds of western farmers have already signed our petition calling for an immediate reduction in user fees and refunding the surplus back to growers—if we’re being honest, the process should be as simple as that.”
About the Wheat Growers:
Founded in 1970, the Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association is a voluntary farmer-run advocacy organization dedicated to developing public policy solutions that strengthen the profitability and sustainability of farming, and the agricultural industry as a whole. For more information, please visit wheatgrowers.ca.