Pork Producers Applaud Planned Changes to Western Canadian Grain Classifications

CANADA - Farm-Scape: Episode 2188. Farm-Scape is a Wonderworks Canada production and is distributed courtesy of Manitoba Pork Council and Sask Pork.
calendar icon 8 July 2006
clock icon 7 minute read

Farm-Scape, Episode 2188

Western Canadian pork producers are applauding the Canadian Grain Commission's (CGC) decision to relax the KVD, or kernel visual distinguishability, requirements which have denied farmers and plant breeders access to certain varieties of wheat.

KVD requirements are intended to ensure wheat varieties that look like high quality milling wheat aren't allowed into the Canadian delivery system where they could be mixed with the higher quality grain risking high value export markets.

CGC Announces Restructuring of Wheat Classes

Last week the grain commission announced it plans to restructure western Canadian wheat classes to facilitate the development and registration of the non-milling wheat varieties. Key changes, which are intended to take effect August 1, 2008, will include the creation of a new classification of wheat and the elimination of KVD requirements for the minor classes.

The planned modifications are outlined in a report entitled, The Future of Western Canadian Wheat Quality Assurance. That report is the result of extensive consultations with producer organizations, industry and various government departments.

Balance Required

“We are very much dealing with two issues here,” states CGC Assistant Chief Commissioner Terry Harasym.

“The first,” he explains, “was how to strike a balance between retaining KVD for the Canadian Western Red Spring and the Canadian Western Amber Durum classes of wheat and there by protecting the markets for the high quality wheat but, at the same time, how to facilitate the development and registration of new non milling varieties for livestock feed or industrial uses.”

He continues, “What we’re planning on doing is, one, to create a new general purpose class of wheat. This class of wheat would be aimed at the feed and industrial, or ethanol for example, markets. Secondly we would not change the KVD requirements for red springs and durum wheats which is 85 percent of the market. Again, nothing in what we’re talking about doing here would affect the red spring or the durum classes and therefore would not affect the overall markets which are the high end quality markets for Canadian wheat. In order to allow the plant breeders the widest latitude in terms of being able to look at kernel type we would remove KVD requirements for the minor classes at the same time.”

He says, “All we’re doing is creating the ability for plant breeders to use new genetics in the creation of higher yielding varieties that would be able to function in this new class of general purpose wheat which would be aimed at the feed and livestock sector as well as the ethanol or industrial markets that hopefully are developing and would provide farmers the ability to utilize these new varieties.”

Chances Considered Long overdue

Manitoba Pork Council chairman Karl Kynoch notes, “We [pork producers] have been asking for this type of change for a long time and this is a good first step.”

He insists “Western Canadian livestock producers need wheat varieties grown specifically for feed value and this change in the western Canadian wheat class system will crack open the door.”

Competitive Ability in Both Grain and Livestock Considered Key

Alberta Pork Producers General Manager Ed Schultz believes, “The whole issue is our competitiveness as a region as against the corn belt in Iowa, the two crop system in Brazil and Argentina and so on, where they can grow more mass per acre. When you get right down to it we are selling pork, that’s true, but we’re really selling protein and energy.”

He suggests, “The more we can produce per acre the more we can ultimately feed and market in another form so, to me, our long term competitiveness links directly to the grain grower. The livestock producer and the grain grower are partners in this whole venture and the more we can produce on our land mass on the prairies in terms of tonnage of grain, the more we can feed in terms of tonnage of livestock and market meat products abroad.”

Change Opens the Door to New Variety Development

Saskatchewan Pork Development Board general manager Ketilson adds, “This really opens up our ability to broaden the types of crops we grow and the uses we grow them for so it really encourages the value added here in western Canada without having the competing interests, one being a disadvantage to the other. For an example if we can grow a new cultivar that is suitable for the ethanol industry and also the livestock industry, we don’t want to be stuck with the same yield potential that we have been in the past.”

He believes, “If we can increase the yield, increase the price a bit so that the farmer can make some more money but still at the same time enable more quantify of grain for the ethanol industry and the livestock industry we all win.”

Kynoch agrees, “This change will also benefit grain farmers by offering them a new marketing opportunity. Wheat growers will now be able to specifically target the livestock industry with high-yielding varieties of feed wheats without impacting on the milling wheat market.”

Potential Higher Yielding Disease Resistant Varieties Already Exist

Shultz is confident, “Doing what they’re doing will free up the development of new cultivars that are higher yielding, more suitable for feeding to livestock.”

He notes, “There already are varieties developed that we have not been licensed for use that are disease resistant for instance. For example there’s a feed wheat that has existed for many years that yielded about twice as much per acre as red spring wheat and was fusarium resistant that we weren't allow to grow on the prairies. That makes it possible now for those existing varieties to be grown plus it’ll encourage researchers to develop new cultivars that are even higher yielding and then we’ll start to catch up. We were losing ground against Iowa because corn yields are increasing every year. We were losing ground against Brazil on competitiveness. Now we’ll be able to catch up and start meeting the competition that is global in nature.”

Two Year Implementation Offers Time to Adjust

Harasym admits this is a complex policy issue. “It is something that has absorbed the time and energies of many people, not only at the Canadian Grain Commission but certainly within the producer organizations and the industry, frankly for decades.”

He believes, “The fundamental question is how to maintain a world class quality assurance system for Canadian wheat while mitigating the constraints that KVD imposes on plant breeders to develop new varieties and obviously the limitations that places on farmers ability to grow them for either industrial or feed uses.”

He insists, “It’s critical for the CGC to establish a policy direction for KVD now that would provide our plant breeding community with knowledge of how the system would evolve in the future. We decided to balance this directional decision with a two year implementation period that would provide the plant breeders, the wheat board, ourselves, the industry, producers and anyone else that's involved in this with the time to determine the most efficient and effective implementation requirements as we go forward.”

Staff Farmscape.Ca
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