Grain Commission surplus belongs to farmersFebruary 9, 2017Hub Article The Canadian Grain Commission (CGC)’s financial position has received a lot of attention in recent weeks. Farmers are asking: what will happen with the surplus? The CGC’s main source of revenue is a fee collected on exports, designed to cover approximately 90% of the Commission’s expenses. But as of March 31st, 2016, the CGC’s official financial statement listed a $95 million surplus. While the fees are technically paid by exporters, they are passed back to farmers through the price they receive for their grain. With larger than expected crops being exported and the conservative estimates made when setting the fees back in 2013, revenues have exceeded expenses each year. The surplus continues to grow and without immediate action it will continue to grow into the future. With a sense of urgency, in November 2016, CCGA wrote the Government to request an immediate reduction in user fees and for the CGC to work with farmers on a plan for using the surplus. After all, the surplus funds were accumulated with farmer dollars, so farmers should determine what to do with the funds. An immediate reduction of user fees benefits everyone. This would provide a clear signal that steps are being taken now to address overpayments. Without action, the surplus will grow ever further. This reduction should happen immediately and not be pushed back to coincide with the planned CGC user fee review that would take effect in 2018. Swift determination of how the surplus will benefit farmers is critical. It is encouraging to see the CGC publicly discussing stakeholder consultations on the surplus for this spring. The earlier the consultations, and the more details, the better. Various ideas have already been generated, and are circulating among government, farmer and industry stakeholders. It is essential that farmers be at the centre of discussion regarding the surplus. A grower refund is the most direct option – it returns the money to those who built the surplus. But, questions exist about its feasibility. Other viable options presented so far include the creation of a producer compensation fund to replace the CGC’s existing Producer Payment Security program and increased investment in the CGC’s grain quality research program to advance the grains sector. Next week the CGC will welcome its new Chief Commissioner and Assistant Commissioners. CCGA believes strongly in advancing this issue, and looks forward to sharing these same messages with the new CGC leadership.