SASKATOON, SASKATCHEWAN, CANADA — With the Aug. 1 end of the wheat marketing monopoly in Western Canada, the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) announced a new corporate visual identity and a new grain-handling partner.

"We begin the new era in a position of strength and a climate of optimism," said President and Chief Executive Officer Ian White during a news conference on July 31 in the lobby of CWB head office in downtown Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. "We have a brand new look, a solid business model and the support of thousands of farmers who have told us they intend to market grain with CWB. That makes the future bright."

White unveiled a new image and logo for CWB, featuring vibrant colors that reflect the green of nature, the blue of the Prairie sky and the gold of the harvest, along with the rays of a rising sun.

He also announced a grain-handling agreement with Louis Dreyfus Canada Ltd. to handle grain from farmers who want to market their grain through CWB pools.

"With this new agreement, CWB remains well on track to serve farmers into the future as their expert grain-marketing partner," said White. "Our network of partner delivery points will continue to grow, ensuring farmers can sign CWB contracts with confidence."

Louis Dreyfus, one of the world's largest grain companies, has 10 modern, high-throughput terminals across Western Canada in Dawson Creek, British Columbia; Joffre, Alberta; Lyalta, Alberta; Rycroft, Alberta; Aberdeen, Saskatchewan; Brass, Saskatchewan; Kegworth, Saskatchewan; Tisdale, Saskatchewan; Virden, Manitoba; and Rathwell, Manitoba.

The announcement means there are now more than 130 confirmed locations across Western Canada where farmers can deliver grain to CWB.

"There are many reasons for confidence as we forge ahead anew," he said. "We will add value for farmers. We have a clean balance sheet thanks to the support of the Government of Canada. We have streamlined our operations. We have negotiated business arrangements that will help us succeed. The path we've taken goes in one direction - forward."

CWB crop and grain-market experts also provided outlooks today on the prospects for this year's Prairie harvest. Production in 2011 will be significantly larger than the past three years. The CWB Market Research team projects all-wheat production in Western Canada of 24.2 million tonnes, compared to 22.7 million tonnes last year and 21.1 million tonnes in 2010. Durum is expected to be 4.5 million tonnes, up from last year's 4.2 million tonnes, while barley is forecast at 8 million tonnes, up from 7.3 million tonnes in 2011.

For the 2011-12 crop year that ended July 31, CWB expects to return an estimated C$6.3 billion to western Canadian farmers from the sale of last year's wheat and barley crop. CWB exported about 18.1 million tonnes, including 13 million tonnes of wheat, 3.6 million tonnes of durum, and 1.1 million tonnes of barley. Within Canada, CWB sold 2.15 million tonnes of wheat, 225,000 tonnes of durum, and 1 million tonnes of malting barley over the past crop year, which runs from Aug. 1 to July 31.

Canadian government officials said the end of the monopoly means the potential for greater investment, innovation and competition for the western grain industry in an open market.

"The Harper Government has delivered on our long-standing commitment to give western wheat and barley farmers the same freedom to make business decisions that other farmers in Canada have long enjoyed." said Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz.