What to expect from disputing grading results

Geoff Backman, Business Development and Markets Manager | Alberta Wheat and Barley Commissions

Are farmers aware of their rights under the Canada Grain Act?

That’s the question staff faced after the recent consultation from the Canadian Grain Commission (CGC) on extending the time in which disputing grain grading could occur. In conversations with farmer members, they indicated hesitation in exercising their rights, and some were unclear about what to expect from the process. This article is to help inform farmers of their rights, how to exercise them, and what they can expect from elevator staff throughout the process.

A farmer, or representative on the farmer’s behalf, has the right to dispute the assessment of grain grade or dockage at the time of delivery to a primary elevator. Frequent topics of dispute for wheat include grade, protein content, moisture and dockage. While most farmers are familiar with resolving disputes with elevator staff, the right to dispute through assessment by the CGC exists if a satisfactory resolution cannot be reached otherwise. Farmers can exercise this right by asking the primary elevator operator to send a representative sample of grain to the CGC for a decision Subject to Inspector’s Grade and Dockage. If a farmer or representative makes this request at the time of delivery, the primary elevator operator must send a representative sample to the CGC. The steps that farmers can expect from the process can be found in section 36 of the Canada Grain Regulations. The elevator operator is responsible for:

  • Issuing an interim primary elevator receipt to the farmer.
  • Placing a 1,000 gram (1kg) sample that both the farmer and operator agree is representative in an unbreakable container labeled “Subject to Inspector’s Grade and Dockage”.
  • Completing a I-106 form that requests the inspection for the purpose of dispute resolution (farmers should ensure that their contact information is included on the form otherwise it will not be counted as a dispute by the CGC).
  • Sending the grain sample and completed form to the nearest CGC service centre.

While the elevator is responsible for critical steps of the process, farmers should, with diligence, try to ensure that protocol is followed by both parties. Once the CGC receives both the labelled sample and the I-106 form, the sample is assessed. The results are recorded to a Submitted Sample Certificate that is sent to both the producer and the elevator via email, fax or mail. This ensures that all parties are aware of the official determination.

If either the farmer or the elevator are dissatisfied with the determination, they have 15 days to request that the Chief Grain Inspector for Canada re-examine the sample. If the result changes, a revised Submitted Sample Certificate is distributed to the elevator and farmers based on the determination of the chief grain inspector. The determination of the chief grain inspector is final, and there are no further avenues for dispute. Once the determination from the CGC is received, the interim primary elevator receipt can be exchanged for an appropriate primary elevator receipt or cash purchase ticket indicating the assigned grade and dockage.

The commissions have heard from farmers that the ability to raise concerns around grade and dockage at the time of delivery can be difficult if a third party or hired hand is the one delivering the grain. The commissions asked the CGC, as part of the submission reviewing the Canada Grain Act, to extend the timeframe that a farmer could dispute grading and dockage of a delivery. The CGC heard this concern and proposed changing the timeframe to raise concerns to one week. This change will provide farmers with reasonable time to attempt to discuss or negotiate any grading or dockage results with elevator staff and preserve the right to dispute resolution. At the time of writing (April 25, 2022) the CGC has yet to announce the next steps and time frame needed to implement this change.

For more detailed information on farmers’ rights, head to the Canadian Grain Commission’s website grainscanada.gc.ca and click on the “Producer Protection” tab at the top.