Western Grain Elevator Association

Western Grain Elevator Association

June 30, 2011 14:08 ET

Grain Jobs to be Retained and Gained

Thousands of Existing Employees to be Joined by New Jobs in Processing, Research

WINNIPEG, MANITOBA--(Marketwire - June 30, 2011) - The Western Grain Elevator Association (WGEA) today stated that the focus of moving to an open marketplace for trading in western Canadian wheat and barley must be placed on the significant new opportunities which will arise.

In this June 29th speech, Minister Ritz talked about grain industry jobs, stating that companies will be looking to beef up their work force in wheat and barley marketing. He also discussed the potential new jobs and dollars in value added investments that would come to Winnipeg and Canada. "This is absolutely true," said WGEA Executive Director Wade Sobkowich. "The reality is that the new environment of marketing choice will open the door for many new job opportunities, as there will be increased investment in processing and research."

The WGEA points out that investment in oat processing has thrived since it has been removed from the CWB monopoly in 1989. Since then, at least 7 oat milling plants were built in Western Canada (Westglen Milling, Alberta Oats, Champion Oat Processors, Grain Millers and Viterra Oat Processing, with plants in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba). The increase in oat processing in western Canada has been dramatic.

Likewise, canola has seen a steady increase in acres seeded. This year there will be more canola acres grown than spring wheat: 19.8 million acres versus 17.54, based on Statistics Canada's June 23, 2011 report. Investment in research and in processing has increased significantly. In the last three years, new plants have been built by Richardson International, Louis Dreyfus, TRT, Cargill, and expansions by Bunge at several plants, in addition to all of the other plants that already existed. In the last 4 years canola processing capacity has increased from 4.3 million tonnes (2006) to 7.4 million tonnes in 2010 – or 72 %. "The investment dollars for these plants alone were over $750 million, investments which continue to generate significant amounts of economic spinoff," continued Sobkowich.

"It's important to look at canola crushing and processing facilities as just one example: One plant alone creates over 100 high quality, high paying jobs. Also, in the pulses and specialty crops sectors, there have been high levels of investment and advancement in recent years," added Sobkowich.

Currently, WGEA members employ 7,200 people across Canada in the areas of grain handling and processing, 1,600 of which are in the province of Manitoba. Grain handlers also pay millions of dollars in sales, property and income taxes each year, money used by our provincial and municipal governments to provide various services to Canadians.

"In our view, this is a positive opportunity for all governments to focus their efforts on working with their provincial-based companies to ensure the transition occurs in an orderly fashion, to the benefit of all growers and the larger economies in each western province," said Sobkowich.

The WGEA maintains that if the Canadian Wheat Board enters into positive, commercial arrangements with handling agents and other partners, there will be significant efficiencies in the process, which is good news for farmers and industry stakeholders.

The Western Grain Elevator Association is an association of seven farmer-owned, public, and private grain businesses operating in Canada, collectively handling over 90% of western Canada's bulk grain exports.

Contact Information

  • Western Grain Elevator Association
    Wade Sobkowich
    Executive Director
    (204) 942-6835