Keystone Agricultural Producers agree with the intervention of the federal Competition Bureau after the sale of a grain elevator in Virden.
Last September, Louis Dreyfus Company sold all 10 of its grain elevators in Western Canada to Winnipeg-based company Parrish & Heimbecker.
In December, the Competition Bureau filed an application to the Competition Tribunal that if successful, would force P&H to sell either its Virden elevator or its other elevator in Moosomin, Sask. The reasoning was that since P&H now owns both elevators on a 180-kilometre stretch of the Trans-Canada Highway, they were creating a monopoly that hurts grain farmers.
"Farmers and producers are price-takers in the global economy, and competition is key to ensuring that they are paid fair value for the high-quality crops grown here in Manitoba," KAP wrote in an emailed statement.
"(They) are best served when they have access to as many options as possible close to home where they can market their crops, and the Competition Bureau has taken a positive step to ensure producers are protected and supported."
Ian Robson, a grain farmer and provincial representative for the National Farmers’ Union in Manitoba, said that competition waned as the Canadian Wheat Board was dismantled under the Harper government.
"That right there was the greatest disadvantage on the farmers’ side," Robson said. "The power is now all with the elevator companies. We don’t know, really, what the price of grain is. It’s based off the Minneapolis Grain Exchange and there’s some pretty fuzzy unclear formulas that make up the price locally."
Robson added that there are only a few elevator companies left whose owners can dictate the terms for selling grains in Canada. The solution, according to him, is for farmers to band together to form their own companies as they did with the old co-operative pool elevators.
The Sun asked P&H CEO John Heimbecker for comment, but he said he was not currently in a position to speak on the matter.
There have been no updates on the part of the Competition Tribunal for the case since the Competition Bureau filed its application on Dec. 19.
» The Brandon Sun