Milling wheat compensation slow to come
P.E.I. farmers are still waiting for compensation for an error made by Dover Mills last fall that led them to dumping their milling wheat or selling it for feed at a lower price than it was worth.
Dover Mills told farmers their wheat was not acceptable for milling because it had levels of a fungal toxin from fusarium blight. It turned out to be a clerical error, and some of the rejected grain was acceptable, but it was not corrected before 10 farmers took a loss on the grain.
Anthony Nabuurs lost about $12,000 because of the mistake. The experience has turned him a bit off the crop. This spring he's planting only a third of what he has the last few years.
"It's sort of been a bit of a money maker every year," Nabuurs told CBC News Thursday.
"Not a big profit maker but you could make a bit of money at it."
Nabuurs and nine other farmers submitted claims back in January to the Grain Elevator Corporation, but the farmers haven't heard anything back yet. Agriculture Minister George Webster has been looking into the issue of compensation.
"It's a Crown corporation of government, so it operates independently and on its own," said Webster, adding he had reminded management the compensation issue needs to be resolved.
"I am fairly confident they will certainly have that done in the next weeks or month ahead."
It's still not clear exactly who will pay if farmers are owed compensation, but Webster said it certainly won't be his government. The Grain Elevator and Dover Mills should sit down and hammer those details out, he said.
While the delay is frustrating, Nabuurs is more concerned about the fusarium blight issue. The error made the problem worse last year, but the problem remains a real one.
"One of two things is going on. They're either checking a lot more for this stuff and we had it all along, or something is changing in our production that we are starting to see more of this," he said.
Before milling wheat can get back to being a consistent earner for farmers, said Nabuurs, the root of the issue of fusarium blight needs to be addressed.