AWC wants to modernize Canadian wheat grading system

29.11.2016

Alberta Wheat Commission believes such a move will improve long-term profitability for wheat farmers.
 
The Alberta Wheat Commission (AWC) on Nov. 17 released a statement urging the Canadian Grain Commission (CGC) to modernize the Canadian grading system in line with international market demands to improve long-term profitability for wheat farmers. Specifically, the AWC called for implementation of a market-based system aligned with universally measured grain specifications, which the commission believes would better position farmers to maintain competitiveness and receive fair market value for the grain they produce.

“We have observed an evolution in the way wheat is marketed to Canada’s customers,” said Kevin Auch, chairman of the AWC. “International buyers aren’t looking purely at CGC grades anymore — they’re looking at universal quality specs. Modernizing our grading system is a necessary move to ensure Alberta’s farmers receive the maximum value for the quality of wheat they produce.”

Under the current system, Canadian farmers do not sell directly to international buyers. Instead, they rely on the systems in place to ensure quality in Canada aligns with the needs of customers. The AWC is recommending a system that would move toward more accurate testing methods for potential downgrading factors, such as falling number tests for sprout damage, and Deoxynivalenol testing to assess the impact of Fusarium Graminearum on wheat quality. According to the AWC, a system like the one mentioned above would limit the instances where wheat is being downgraded to feed after visual testing, but acceptable quality for the milling market. Some grain companies now test for falling number at local facilities.

“This crop year has resulted in variable quality for farmers in Alberta and across the Prairies,” Auch said. “We want to ensure that our grading system is not severely downgrading wheat that is considered good quality milling wheat in international markets.”

The AWC said it approves of recent changes to mildew guides for a more market-based approach, but is calling for the CGC to evaluate and align Canada’s mildew guides with U.S. standards, which the commission believes better position farmers for market competitiveness. The AWC also said it is encouraging the CGC to move quickly in aligning the wheat grading system with international market demands, as well as support the adoption of technology to enable more accurate testing methods for wheat quality assessment.


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