$107 million (and counting) in surplus funds collected from farmers and grain shippers — how should it be used?
The Canadian Grain Commission (CGC) is seeking input from farmers and the grain industry on what should be done with its growing surplus from user fees collected over the last four years.
“We’ve been hearing lots of different opinions about what to do with the money, but now there’s a process in place to talk about the user fees themselves, as well as the surplus,” says Patti Miller, the CGC’s new chief commissioner, joining us for this Wheat School episode to discuss the consultations that are currently underway.
The CGC has proposed several options for the surplus, which include investing it in a fund to improve producer payment security when grain buyers go bankrupt, drawing it down by reducing user fees for a fixed period of time, and/or investing the money in upgrades to CGC facilities or testing services to make the grain handling chain more efficient.
“Prior to this accumulation, fees had been frozen for a long time, so there’s been a lack of investment in infrastructure in the CGC, and that’s a comment I’ve heard from a lot of groups outside our organization as well,” notes Miller.
Some farmers and farm groups say the CGC and the federal government must refund the money to the farmers who contributed to the surplus, which Miller describes as “a pretty challenging thing to do.”
“It’s the grain companies who actually remit the user fees back to the Grain Commission. It did come off farmers delivering the grain, but we don’t have that information and that data so that’s what makes it logistically challenging,” she says.
As she notes, there are two separate consultations underway: the first is focusing on what to do with the $100 million-plus user fee surplus from the past few years; and the second, determining how user fees should be calculated starting in 2018 when the current five year fee structure expires.
Comments can be submitted to the CGC until May 1st.
Contact info for submitting input to the CGC:
Email: [email protected]
Mail: Accumulated Surplus Comments or User Fees Comments
Canadian Grain Commission
600-303 Main Street
Winnipeg, MB R3C 3G8