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May 23

Alberta Wheat and Barley Commissions say passing of Bill C-49 is a historic turning point for the grain industry, thank Ministers Garneau and MacAulay for commitment to farmers

Posted on May 23 By: Victoria Decker

Alberta Wheat and Barley Commissions say passing of Bill C-49 is a historic turning point for the grain industry, thank Ministers Garneau and MacAulay for commitment to farmers

(Calgary, Alberta) May 23, 2018 – The Alberta Wheat Commission (AWC) and Alberta Barley say today’s news that Bill C-49, the Transportation Modernization Act, is about to receive Royal Assent represents a historic step forward for farmers. The Commissions have pressed hard for years to see a reformed transportation system that farmers can rely on to get their product to Canada’s global customers in a timely fashion.

The commissions are now looking forward to seeing key aspects of the legislation implemented including shippers’ ability to negotiate reciprocal penalties in service level agreements with the railways and access to long haul interswitching to open up better competitive rail options.

The commissions hope to see these mechanisms introduced in the system prior to the beginning of the crop year on August 1 and look forward to seeing the railways’ plans for moving the 2018 crop.

“We saw today that the government is listening to farmers,” said Jason Lenz, Alberta Barley Chair. “Bill C-49 is a monumental turning point – it not only provides the long-term competitive mechanisms to improve rail service that we’ve been working to see implemented, but also paves the way for Canada to maintain its status as a reliable supplier to our global customers.”

The commissions further note their gratitude to Ministers Marc Garneau and Lawrence MacAulay for their commitment to this file. The Senate Standing Committee on Transport and Communications chaired by Senator David Tkachuk also played an instrumental role in bringing forward important amendments that strengthen the legislation.

“We are extremely pleased to see the government move this long overdue legislation forward,” said Kevin Bender, AWC Chair. “Bill C-49 lays the foundation for a transportation system where all players, including the railways, are accountable for their performance.”

The commissions look forward to monitoring the implementation of Bill C-49 through the Crop Logistics Working Group of which AWC is a member.

Media Contact:
Victoria Decker
Communications Manager
Alberta Wheat Commission and Alberta Barley
vdecker@albertawheat.com
c. 403-813-6956
d. 403-219-7906

May 11

Alberta Wheat and Barley Commissions disappointed in further delays to Bill C-49

Posted on May 11 By: Victoria Decker

The Alberta Wheat Commission (AWC) and Alberta Barley are disappointed to learn that Bill C-49, the Transportation Modernization Act, was not passed this week. Further delays run the risk that farmers could see another crop year with no mechanisms in place to hold the railways accountable. The commissions continue to urge quick passage in the House of Commons and the Senate.

The Commissions say it’s unfortunate that political maneuvering has stalled the legislation and note that May 22 is now the earliest it could pass, saying there’s an increasing risk the bill won’t become law before the House rises on June 22. The opposition parties and Senate have done good work in advancing the amendments but it’s becoming increasingly critical that the process continue to move forward.

“It’s extremely disappointing,” said Kevin Bender, AWC Chair. “We’ve been pressing for transportation reform for years, and it’s growing increasingly possible that we’ll see another crop year go by without any mechanisms in place that demand accountability from the railways. That means we’re running the risk of seeing another backlog before we can recover from the millions of tonnes still left in the system from this year’s delays.”

With the continuing hold up in Parliament, the Commissions point out that even when the Bill is passed, there is still a lag time of several months before certain provisions can be enacted. This process adds even greater risk of not having competitive measures in place prior to the new crop year.

“When grain gets backed up in the system, it can cost billions of dollars in lost revenue with farmers bearing the brunt of those costs,” said Jason Lenz, Alberta Barley Chair. “We can’t afford to see another crop year with farmers exposed to the risks of a rail transportation system that has no accountability. Farmers are getting caught in political maneuvering that could seriously hurt our businesses and the rural economy for another year. We need to see Bill C-49 passed now.”

Once passed with amendments, Bill C-49 contains mechanisms including reciprocal penalties and improvements to long haul interswitching that the Commissions have pressed hard to see implemented for several years. The legislation as amended will provide long-term solutions to accountability and competitive issues within Canada’s freight rail system.

Media Contact:
Victoria Decker
Communications Manager
Alberta Wheat Commission and Alberta Barley
vdecker@albertawheat.com
403-219-7906

Apr 29

Alberta Wheat and Barley Commissions say Minister Garneau’s endorsement of key amendments shows commitment to farmers

Posted on Apr 29 By: Victoria Decker

The Alberta Wheat Commission (AWC) and Alberta Barley say that Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau’s move to endorse key amendments to Bill C-49 in the House of Commons, as recommended by the Commissions, is good news for farmers.

Now with spring seeding just days away, the Commissions urge the House of Commons to pass Bill C-49 with amendments as swiftly as possible. Once passed, the Commissions urge quick passage of the amended legislation in the Senate to pave the way for royal assent so that Canada’s freight rail system has permanent solutions in place in advance of the new crop year.

Key amendments include improved access to longhaul interswitching, a measure that will increase shippers’ competitive access to a second rail carrier. The legislation also includes reciprocal penalties, which both commissions pressed hard to see for several years.

“We see the news from Minister Garneau as an excellent show of support for the agriculture industry and for farmers,” said Kevin Bender, AWC Chair. “The amendments to longhaul interswitching are an extremely important competitive mechanism and we firmly believe they should be included in the legislation.”

Minister Garneau’s Friday announcement that he tabled a motion in the House of Commons to make several amendments also signals the likeliness that Bill C-49 could be debated as early as next week. The movement on Bill C-49 is especially welcomed news since many areas in Western Canada continue to experience significant delays in grain movement due to poor rail service. The Commissions also thank Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Lawrence MacAulay for his support of the legislation.

“Along with support from Minister MacAulay, Minister Garneau’s commitment to the amendments we pressed for is promising news,” said Jason Lenz, Alberta Barley Chair. “With grain still backlogged across several regions in Western Canada, we strongly encourage the House to pass the amended legislation as quickly as possible so we can avoid similar circumstances this harvest. Bill C-49 as amended offers the mechanisms we need to see that happen.”

Once passed, historic Bill C-49 will in-fact pave the way for a more competitive, reliable and accountable rail transportation system in Canada.

Media Contact:
Victoria Decker
Communications Manager
Alberta Wheat Commission & Alberta Barley
vdecker@albertawheat.com
403-219-7906

Apr 18

Alberta Wheat and Barley Commissions urge immediate Federal Government action to prevent CP Rail strike

Posted on Apr 18 By: Victoria Decker

(Calgary, Alberta) April 18, 2018 – In response to the 72-hour strike notice issued by the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC) representing more than 3,000 workers at CP Rail, the Alberta Wheat and Barley Commissions are urging the Federal Government to take immediate steps to prevent strike action.

A rail strike could cause devastating consequences on the agriculture sector especially given that farmers in many regions of Western Canada are already experiencing significant delays due to poor rail service. A strike could happen as early as Saturday, April 21 unless the TCRC reaches a negotiated settlement.

“Because of the monopolistic nature of Canada’s freight rail system, many western Canadian farmers only have access to one rail line,” said Kevin Bender, AWC Chair. “If a strike were to take place, farmers who can only access the CP line would have no other options to move their grain and would have to wait until rail is moving again to be paid. This will in-turn cause major cash-flow issues into this year’s growing season.”

Further, failure to move grain to markets on time will seriously impact Canada’s reputation as a reliable supplier to our global customers.

“We need immediate government intervention to make sure that an already difficult situation with grain movement by rail does not worsen,” said Jason Lenz, Alberta Barley Chair. “The movement of grain is so essential to the Canadian economy that it should never be disrupted by strike action. But unfortunately, we see labour disputes almost every year.”

A rail strike could have potentially devastating and lasting effects on our producers, domestic supply chain partners, international buyers and the national economy. The Commissions note that immediate action will minimize the negative impacts on Canada’s economy.

The Commissions are further pressing for action through a letter to the Honourable Patricia Hajdu, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour.

Media Contact:
Victoria Decker
Communications Manager
Alberta Wheat Commission
vdecker@albertawheat.com
403-219-7906

 

Apr 18

Letter to Federal Government re: 72-hour CP Rail Strike Notice

Posted on Apr 18 By: Victoria Decker

Honorable Patricia A. Hajdu
Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON   K1A 0A6

April 18, 2018

Dear Minister Hajdu:

The Alberta Barley and Alberta Wheat Commission’s (AB/AWC) are aware that the union (Teamsters Canada Rail Conference) representing 3,000 conductors and locomotive engineers at Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) has served notice of intent to strike and could be on strike as early as April 21, 2018. AB/AWC ask you to lead the Government’s efforts to enforce the necessary measures to ensure that a strike at CP cannot further disrupt rail service.

On behalf of our 14,000 farmer members, we ask you and the Government of Canada to immediately make public the intention to take action to ensure the continuity of rail operations; particularly, as the freight rail system begins to recover from a critical backlog that has already had a severe impact on western Canadian farmers and other sectors this year.

The Canadian economy relies on an effective rail transportation system to move grains and oilseeds, along with other commodities, to markets across Canada and around the world. Our reputation as a reliable supplier of quality grain is in jeopardy when we can’t fulfil our commitments. Further, with the inability to deliver grain on global contracts that were set for delivery as far back as October, some farmers are facing severe cash flow issues as we move into the 2018 growing season.

This years’ service issues along with past rail failures cause uncertainty along the value chain and can take Canada’s global reputation years to recover from. Yet, we face actual or threatened rail labour disruptions on an annual basis. The ability of Canadian shippers to meet export contracts must not be threatened by labour disruptions.  Rail employees should be prohibited from taking strike action, now or into the future. We ask the government to impose binding arbitration and begin the process of introducing back to work legislation into the House of Commons.

A rail strike could have potentially devastating and lasting effects on our producers, domestic supply chain partners, international buyers and the national economy. As such, we are urging you to lead the government in taking early action to minimize the impact on Canada’s economy. Canadian farmers, exporters and our international reputation are depending upon your action.

Sincerely,

Jason Lenz
Chair, Alberta Barley


Kevin Bender
Chair, Alberta Wheat Commission

 

CC:         Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister
Hon. Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food
Hon. Marc Garneau, Minister of Transportation

 

 

Apr 10

Introducing FarmSustainability.ca – an online tool to advance farm sustainability

Posted on Apr 10 By: Victoria Decker

Team Alberta is pleased to launch farmsustainability.ca. This farm sustainability readiness tool is a web-based, voluntary, self-assessment and action planning resource that aims to advance on-farm sustainability in Canada.

“Interest in our food system is ever-increasing,” said Jason Lenz, Chair of Alberta Barley. “Consumers not only want food that is safe, nutritious and affordable, but also grown using environmentally and ethically responsible methods.”

“As end-users grow increasingly interested in sourcing sustainable food options, this tool will increase producers’ readiness to take advantage of sustainability-driven market demands,” said Kevin Bender, Alberta Wheat Commission Chair.

The readiness tool removes the guesswork by asking questions compiled from three of the most comprehensive, internationally recognized, sustainability certification programs in a user-friendly format. The tool addresses the drivers behind sustainable sourcing and certification and will increase producers’ understanding of sustainability in Canada. Farmers can complete an assessment of their farm when they visit farmsustainability.ca, which will generate an action plan tailored to their operation. The aggregated data gleaned from this tool will give the commissions insight for directing future resources for research and extension of beneficial management practices.

“As producers of food and stewards of the land, sustainability has been fundamental to farming with every generation,” said Don Shepert, Vice-Chair of Alberta Pulse Growers and Industry Co-Chair for the  Agri-Environmental Partnership of Alberta. “The action plan component of this readiness tool will help farmers continue to improve the overall performance of their operations.”

“The readiness tool is simple and intuitive for farmers to use, especially those who are interested in completing a sustainability certification program. I encourage any grower open to learning more about their operation to check out farmsustainability.ca,” said John Guelly, Vice-Chair of Alberta Canola and industry advisor for the Alberta Environmental Farm Plan. “The readiness tool will help tell our industry’s sustainability story which is important for earning public trust.”

The farm sustainability readiness tool was developed by the four crop commissions in conjunction with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry and Groupe Agéco.

Media Contacts

Michelle Chunyua
Communications Coordinator
Alberta Canola
michelle@albertacanola.com
780-224-7970

Victoria Decker
Interim Communications Manager
Alberta Wheat Commission & Alberta Barley
vdecker@albertawheat.com
403-219-7906

Rachel Peterson
Communications Coordinator
Alberta Pulse Growers
rpeterson@albertapulse.com
780-986-9398 ext. 108

Team Alberta is made up of Alberta Barley, Alberta Canola, Alberta Pulse Growers and Alberta Wheat Commission. Together the organizations represent over 20,000 farms across Alberta.

Apr 5

Alberta Wheat and Barley Commissions commend the Senate for passing Bill C-49 with key amendments

Posted on Apr 5 By: Victoria Decker

The Alberta Wheat Commission (AWC) and Alberta Barley thank the Senate for passing Bill C-49, the Transportation Modernization Act, with key amendments that will go a long way in holding the railways to account and ensuring grain farmers do not see a repeat of delayed shipments in future years.

The Commissions urge the House of Commons to move quickly in passing the amended legislation as soon as possible so that passing the bill does not drag into the summer months.

The legislation includes competitive measures such as reciprocal penalties and long haul interswitching provisions, both of which the commissions pressed hard to see implemented for several years. The commissions look forward to reviewing the details on how the long haul interswitching provisions will work for shippers.

Prior to the legislation passing, grain farmers in several regions in Western Canada have seen significant delays this year with rail car fulfillments in the poorest weeks reaching critical levels experienced during the backlog of 2013-14.

“The passing of Bill C-49 in the Senate is a major step forward for Canadian grain farmers,” said Kevin Bender, AWC Chair. “The legislation likely won’t fix the current backlog that farmers have experienced in several areas this year, but we are extremely pleased to have mechanisms in place that will help avoid this issue in the future.”

“We appreciate the Federal Government’s commitment to alleviating farmers’ long-standing challenges related to delayed rail shipments,” said Jason Lenz, Alberta Barley Chair. “Farmers rely almost entirely on freight rail transportation to move our products to our international customers and this legislation ultimately strengthens Canada’s position as a major grain exporter.”

The commissions look forward to seeing a more efficient and competitive railway system in Canada to ensure farmers can most effectively supply our global customers with grain.

Media Contact
Victoria Decker
Interim Communications Manager
Alberta Wheat Commission
vdecker@albertawheat.com
403-813-6956

Mar 8

Alberta Wheat Commission and Alberta Barley welcome signing of CPTPP, urge quick passage to ensure Canadian farmers stay competitive

Posted on Mar 8 By: Victoria Decker

(Calgary, Alberta), March 8, 2018 – The Alberta Wheat Commission (AWC) and Alberta Barley today welcomed the signing of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (CPTPP). The Commissions urge quick passage by Parliament to ensure Canada is among the first group of countries included when the trade deal takes effect. The CPTPP will unlock new access and improve the trading environment for wheat and barley products throughout member countries and ensures Canadian farmers will stay competitive. The deal was signed at an official ceremony in Chile earlier today.

Quick passage will ensure that Canada does not lose out on export opportunities to our main competitors, including Australia and New Zealand, who have signalled that they will move forward quickly with ratification upon signing the agreement. These two countries have pre-existing trade agreements with Japan, one of Canada’s largest markets for wheat exports.

Countries within the TPP zone import more than 6 million tonnes of wheat annually, representing nearly 27 per cent of Canada’s wheat export market valuing over $1.5 billion in farm revenues.

“Canadian farmers are export dependent. This agreement not only opens up new market opportunities which will translate to added profitability for this industry, but it will also ensure that Canada isn’t losing market share to our main competitors within the CPTPP zone,” said Kevin Bender, AWC Chair.

Impacts on our sector will be immediate once this agreement goes into effect. For wheat exports, Canadian farmers will gain a major advantage over U.S. wheat entering into Japan – one of Canada’s biggest markets – since the U.S. is no longer part of the agreement. For Canadian barley, reduction or elimination of tariffs and quotas for feed, food and malt will translate into an additional 400-500 thousand tonnes and $100 million in increased revenue through direct exports, and through domestic feed and malt processing demands to countries in the CPTPP zone. CPTPP will also help Canadian barley to regain its foothold in the Japanese market after seeing a 75 per cent loss between 2012 and 2015 due to Australia’s free trade agreement with Japan. Canadian barley will also see increased demand within domestic markets since Canadian beef exports are one of the largest projected export gains.

“Today’s announcement is a big win for the agri-food sector,” said Jason Lenz, Alberta Barley Chair. “CPTPP paves the way for significant diversification in our markets, new export opportunities and better competitive advantage for Canadian farmers.”

The CPTPP may expand beyond its current members opening up new markets including Indonesia, the world’s largest importer of wheat. The deal currently includes Canada, Japan, Australia, Peru, Malaysia, Vietnam, New Zealand, Chile, Singapore, Mexico and Brunei Darussalam. Together they represent a market of 500 million people and 13.6 per cent of the global GDP.

Media Contact:
Victoria Decker
Interim Communications Manager
Alberta Wheat Commission
vdecker@albertawheat.com
403-219-7906

Feb 28

Alberta Barley producers eligible for 17 percent SR&ED tax credit for 2017 research investments 

Posted on Feb 28 By: Victoria Decker

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(Calgary, Alberta), February 28, 2018 – Alberta Barley advises farmers that 17 per cent of their 2017 check-off payment is eligible for the Scientific Research & Experimental Development (SR&ED) tax credit for their investment in Alberta Barley-funded research and development (R&D) projects. For example, farmers who paid $100 in check-off to Alberta Barley in 2017 would earn $17 in tax credit.

The federal SR&ED tax program is administered by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and encourages businesses to invest in and perform research and development (R&D) in Canada.

Alberta Barley’s percentage is based research investments over the past fiscal year that align with the program. Alberta Barley’s research investments provide support for innovation and technological advancement in the agriculture industry.

Farmers must include use Form T661 with their tax return along with either Form T2SCH31 (incorporated businesses) or Form T2038 (Individuals).  Farmers can learn more about the SR&ED program by visiting the CRA website.

To receive the SR&ED credit from their investment in Alberta Barley, farmers must not have requested a check-off refund this year.

Additional SR&ED tax credits are available for producers who paid check-off into the following organizations:
Alberta Wheat Commission – 21 per cent
Alberta Canola Producers Commission – 14.32 per cent
Alberta Pulse Growers – will be noted on albertapulse.com when available.
Alberta Oat Growers Commission – 11.8 per cent

Farmers looking for more information from Alberta Barley can contact:
Syeda Khurram
Chief Financial Officer and Director of Human Resources
Alberta Wheat Commission and Alberta Barley
skhurram@albertawheatbarley.com
403-219-6264

Media Contact:
Victoria Decker
Interim Communications Manager
Alberta Wheat Commission
vdecker@albertawheat.com
403-219-7906

Jan 31

Alberta Barley and Alberta Wheat Commission will move ahead with shared management team

Posted on Jan 31 By: Victoria Decker

(Edmonton, Alberta) January 31, 2018 – The Alberta Wheat Commission (AWC) and Alberta Barley today announced that they are moving forward with a shared management structure, providing added value and cost savings to the province’s wheat and barley farmers.

The move follows a four-month trial period, during which both boards and management assessed the feasibility of the shared structure. During the next phase of this work, management will formalize an operating model that will see the team serve both the Alberta Wheat and Barley boards.

“Alberta Barley and Wheat staff have always worked collaboratively,” said Jason Lenz, Alberta Barley Chair. “Now operating as one team, we’re able to further leverage the relationship between the commissions to create better efficiencies that serve both crops.”

“Working with Alberta Barley is a natural partnership,” said Kevin Bender, AWC Chair. “With this new structure, we believe we can provide better return on investment to wheat and barley farmers.”

Tom Steve was appointed as Interim General Manager of Alberta Barley in September, coinciding with the commissions’ decision to move ahead with a trial of the shared structure. Steve, who has served as AWC’s General Manager since 2014, will now serve as General Manager of both commissions and lead the transition to a new operating model reporting to the boards of Alberta Barley and AWC.

Moving to a single management structure is a logical next step for the commissions since they have been sharing an office since 2013 as well as a number of staff positions across the finance, admin and GrainsWest teams.

Media Contact:
Victoria Decker
Interim Communications Manager
Alberta Wheat Commission
vdecker@albertawheat.com
403-813-6956

 

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