WINNIPEG, MANITOBA, CANADA — The Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) on March 29 officially launched its new programs for a new grain-marketing era. The former single desk monopoly said that pool and cash contracts for wheat, durum and malting barley are now available, backed by CWB expertise and government guarantees. Starting today, farmers can sign up with the CWB to market their 2012 crop.

"Farmers can rely on the CWB to provide them with the most effective grain-marketing strategy as they enter a new open-market environment," said CWB President and Chief Executive Officer Ian White, adding the new programs apply to the 2012-13 crop year which begins August 1. "Our programs offer competitive returns and solid risk management, with options designed for maximum choice and minimum hassle."

White said the CWB has been consulting farmers over the past few months, including through a series of 21 meetings in communities across Western Canada, that wrap up tomorrow. "We've heard what farmers want from the CWB and we've shared our plans with them. The result is a set of programs with unique features, including the most delivery options, the most wheat reference grades, and the most focus on farmers' bottom line."

CWB said its programs include two pools, three cash-contract programs and malting barley production contracts (descriptions attached). Farmers can sign up directly with the CWB for some contracts - and choose their delivery point later — or contract through their preferred CWB grain-handling partners, which currently include Cargill elevators across Western Canada and South West Terminal near Gull Lake, Saskatchewan. Handling agreements are expected to be reached shortly with all Prairie grain companies, giving farmers a wider range of delivery choices than any other contract available.

White said farmer pricing pools — now available exclusively from the CWB — will be a popular marketing approach for many producers.

"Our pool contracts provide simple, effective risk management and marketing that ensure farmers will never be forced to settle for the bottom of the market or chase an elusive market high," he said. "With one CWB contract, farmers are covered in terms of sales planning, execution, foreign exchange and risk management - including the risk from grade spreads, which can be a significant issue for spring wheat in particular."

Through pooling, farmers keep the profits derived from the sale of their grain — right from the farm gate to the end user. If market rallies occur after contracts are signed, only pooling ensures that farmers continue to share in the additional revenue.

CWB said that farmers can also be assured that their grain will be sold into the world's best markets. Long-standing CWB customers around the globe continue to value a sales relationships built up over 75 years, based on an impeccable reputation for quality and service and a prized international brand.

"These things are valuable assets for the farmers who choose to do business with us going forward," White said. "It all adds up to serve farmers very well in the new era that we are facing together."