CROP DATA REPORTING PROJECT OFFICIALLY ANNOUNCED
PRICING TOOL MEANS BETTER-INFORMED MARKET
BY CULLEN BIRD
A price transparency initiative meant to provide accurate and timely data for the Canadian grain market is officially underway, following an announcement at FarmTech Jan. 28 by federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz.
The web-based tool, dubbed Price & Data Quotes (PDQ), will provide daily information on cash grain prices as well as data on grain movement and trade (www.pdqinfo.ca).
The project was developed by the Alberta Wheat Commission (AWC) and will be led by grain marketing consultant agency FARMCo. Up to $743,000 in project funds will come from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s AgriRisk Initiatives program.
“We saw this project as an opportunity to take a leadership role in improving price transparency in grain markets in Canada,” said Kent Erickson, AWC chairman, in a press release. “We see the PDQ project as strategic and necessary for farmers to compete on the international stage.”
PDQ is meant to fill the information gap farmers and grain companies face now that the Canadian Wheat Board is no longer the single marketer for western Canadian grain. Unlike U.S. farmers, who have had to market their grain as basis traders for decades, Canadian grain farmers have only had a few years to learn about their new marketing opportunities.
Also unlike the U.S., Canada does not have a regularly updated source of price benchmark information to inform farmers.
Most of the data that stakeholders need is already out there, but it’s scattered and often out of date, said Russ Crawford, FARMCo vice president.
“Price information is only good if it’s current,” Crawford said. “If you’re marketing something, you need to know what the price is right now. And if the prices that you’re seeing in the marketplace are two to three weeks old, they’re basically irrelevant for that purpose.”
Apart from data collected from organizations like Statistics Canada and the
Canadian Grain Commission, the project will depend on voluntary disclosure by grain companies. To protect sensitive commercial information, pricing won’t be made available on an individual basis, Crawford said. “The idea would be to normalize those prices into common grades and qualities, to create averages over areas and zones rather than individual locations,” he said.
The ultimate goal for the project is that it would be self-sustaining, through subscription and advertising.
The project is estimated to take 18 months. Once complete, it will likely go to public tender for a third party to operate, according to John De Pape, FARMCo president. “This is meant to provide a resource not just to farmers, but also people who work with farmers,” he said.