The majority of cereal growers in western Canada are expressing positive anticipation for the future with the new era of grain marketing that takes effect Aug. 1. The monopoly powers of the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) officially end on Aug. 1.

But wheat, durum, and barley producers in Canada and the United States are asking important questions about cross-border trade following the removal of the mandatory marketing requirement for western Canadian farmers on Aug. 1. A new website, put together by a working group of Canadian and U.S. non-profit and trade organizations, hopes to provide some answers.

The website, http://canada-usgrainandseedtrade.info/, provides a detailed frequently asked questions (FAQs) section and industry news. Comments and additional questions can also be submitted through the website.

"The new grain marketing environment is good news for wheat, durum, and barley producers on both sides of the border," said Richard Phillips, executive director of the Grain Growers of Canada. "The site will help producers better understand how to navigate through these changes and market their grain across the border."

As the new Marketing Freedom for Grain Farmers Act takes effect in Canada, the cross-border system for wheat, durum, and barley will work the same as it already does for other commodities, such as canola and pulses. The changes to Canada's marketing environment will provide new opportunities for U.S. and Canadian producers to move grain across the border, in both directions.

"The information on this site will help producers who might consider delivering their grain across the border understand market differences," said Shannon Schlecht, director of policy with U.S. Wheat Associates. "Key questions are answered for U.S. and Canadian producers, including how to find a buyer, how wheat will be graded and requirements for crossing the border."

Export licenses will not be needed to deliver or market wheat, durum, or barley from Canada, but U.S. and Canadian grain crossing the border will still be subject to the respective and applicable customs and import regulations, such as phytosanitary requirements.

"People on both sides of the border have many questions on the new marketing changes and their implications," said Dennis Stephens, executive secretary of the Canada Grains Council. "We focused on starting to answer those questions on grading, contracts, and pricing, among others, to provide transparency and facilitate cross-border trade."

Gary Martin, president and chief executive officer of the North American Export Grain Association said, "We plan to update the site frequently and we strongly encourage growers and industry to contact us through the website with their comments, questions, and suggestions."

What cereal growers in Canada see as happening was expressed by Martin Hall, vice-president of Canada’s Western Barley Growers Association (WBGA). “We’re seeing so many more opportunities to build our markets and communities, now that the CWB control over the industry is gone—everything from new futures contracts to a new Barley Council and even new markets that the CWB didn’t sell into.”

The WBGA leadership sees more opportunity for growers to become involved in higher value products marketing through free market selling. 

Hall said, “What is emerging is a real sense of entrepreneurship.”