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Published February 09, 2011, 10:13 AM

Canadian Wheat Board buys two new ships for ferrying grain

WINNIPEG — Farmers’ wallets will soon be getting a boost from surf, not turf, as the Canadian Wheat Board moves to get into the shipping business.

WINNIPEG — Farmers’ wallets will soon be getting a boost from surf, not turf, as the Canadian Wheat Board moves to get into the shipping business.

On Tuesday, the farmer-controlled CWB announced it is plunking down $65 million to buy two new ships to ferry Canadian grain across the Great Lakes.

That’s equal to about $1 per tonne for the vessels, and will be paid over the next four crop years.

In a statement, the CWB said that not only will the buy help move grain more efficiently, but the ships are also expected to haul in an average of $10 million per year for prairie farmers.

“As ship owners, we are moving forward to strengthen farmers’ position in our grain supply chain,” said CWB board chair Allen Oberg, a farmer from Forestburg, Alberta.

“This historic step puts us at the helm. Through the CWB, farmers will share in the control and the profits of Great Lakes grain shipping.”

The deal is part of an arrangement with Algoma Central Corp. and Upper Lakes Group Inc., who are purchasing a larger fleet of the “new, state-of-the-art” cargo ships.

Algoma CEO Greg Wight said the new ships would be larger, faster and more environmentally friendly.

The ships join a fleet of CWB transport vessels that also includes 3,400 rail hopper cars. As the largest wheat and barley marketer in the world, the CWB ships grain to more than 70 countries and returns all profits to farmer members.

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