In a move that might be seen as a good ideological fit, Farmers of North America has launched a campaign asking its members whether they would be willing to invest in purchasing a majority interest in the former Canadian Wheat Board (now known as CWB.)
The farmer alliance says a producer-owned grain handling company would provide “means for profitable upstream grain handling margins to go into farmer investors’ pockets and mitigate risks that individual farmers would otherwise be exposed to.”
The grain business would also complement FNA’s plans to build a farmer-owned nitrogen fertilizer manufacturing plant at Belle Plain, Saskatchewan, according to a website that’s been set up to answer questions from potential investors. The site says the grain handling system could serve as a fertilizer distribution network.
When CWB was stripped of its single desk marketing authority for wheat and barley in 2012, the federal government gave the board until 2017 to become a private operation. Since then, CWB has invested heavily in grain handling infrastructure, purchasing and building elevators, as well as acquiring port facilities at Thunder Bay and along the St. Lawrence shipping corridor.
FNA’s plans include further expansion after acquiring controlling interest in CWB. According to the site, “one to four high throughput facilities are anticipated to be constructed each year, the number being dependent on the success of acquisitions of existing businesses that could accelerate our plans. Emphasis will be placed early on in finding an acceptable solution for a west coast terminal.”
Potential investors are being asked to sign a non-binding letter of commitment, with FNA seeking commitments of $10,000 to $50,000 or more from between three and ten thousand farmers.