Western farmers finally got what they wanted this year - the ability to market their own grain.
With the fall of the Canadian Wheat Board's monopoly, agricultural producers have had new options on the table for 2012. How those options have been used, however, differs greatly, from those in staunch support of the wheat board to those eager to have their products hit the open market.
But it's not that cut and dry, as some are playing on both sides of the fence, as the early stages of the grain-marketing experiment work themselves out.
"A lot of guys are still concerned, and they don't know how it's all going to shake out," said Taber-area farmer Merv Cradduck, who is also a local director for the Wildrose Agricultural Producers (WRAP). "I've been hauling grain I have contracted through the board, and I'm holding back some grain for the open market."
Cradduck added marketing his grain through both the CWB, and on his own, should provide some early answers as to which system may provide the better return going forward.
"We're not expert marketers," he said. "Right now, I'm spreading the risk around. It's going to have to work over time."
Watching and waiting to see all the competition develop for Prairie grain will be an interesting process, said Cradduck, who added he would like to see a strong CWB, as it's only four-and-a-half years until government funding will be cut off for the organization. That will further complicate matters.
"They're going to need a long-range plan," said Cradduck, who speculated that may include a need for the CWB to buy its own infrastructure to transport grain, or may even include expansion plans.
"I wouldn't be the least surprised if they buy up some grain companies."
The need for terminal space might be another issue, he added, and even speculated the companies dealing with the CWB now may even be interested in buying out the board in the future.