The Knowledge Resource for the World of Grain Handling and Processing Industry Operations

GEAPS 506: The Grain Industry in Canada: Climate, Crops and People

2018 Course Offerings

Course description:  The Grain Industry in Canada offers a broad and comprehensive view of Canada’s multifaceted and historic grain industry. Although a main theme involves grain-handling operations, the course also investigates many facets of Canada’s grain “system,” from origin in the fields of Manitoba and Saskatchewan to the market destinations of Asia, Africa and Europe. As the details emerge — in lectures covering everything from government regulations to marketing to how rail lines thread through the Rocky Mountains all but buried in snow – the fascinating picture of Canada’s grain industry comes into focus.

Course Goals: GEAPS 506 is designed to help grain-industry professionals understand the unique characteristics of the Canadian grain industry, from the influence of Canada’s climate and the size of its population, to crop production, marketing, regulatory regimens, grading, cleaning and drying, quality control, rail transportation, domestic use and grain exports. “We’re not in Kansas anymore!”

Target Audience: This course is intended for grain-industry professionals and others who want to understand how Canada’s grain industry works and, what it emphasizes and requires, from production to processing or export.  The course will be useful to anyone who buys or sells Canadian grain, in Canada or around the world, or who would benefit from insight into the various key parts of the Canadian grain industry.


Dave Burrows, CIGI Chief Operating Officer | Show Bio

Dave Burrows is Chief Operating Officer at the Canadian International Grains Institute (Cigi) and a member of the Executive Management Team. He is responsible for Cigi’s technical training services,global customer education and outreach programs and international and domestic value-chain relations. His mandate is to provide a competitive advantage for Canadian field crops marketed around the world through the application Cigi’s technical expertise and market development activity. Prior to joining Cigi,Burrows spent a number of years at the Canadian Wheat Board where he was Vice President, Farmer Relations and Public Affairs.

John De Pape, president, Farmers Advanced Risk Management Co. (FARMco) | Show Bio

John De Pape has been involved in the Canadian grain industry for over 30 years. He was a grain merchant with Cargill before becoming an independent floor trader at the Winnipeg Commodity Exchange (WCE), now ICE Futures Canada. He was later appointed Director of Marketing at WCE where he was involved in the development of new futures contracts and the redesign and improvement of existing contracts. De Pape established a Canadian office for Sparks Companies Inc (changed later to Informa Economics, Inc) in Winnipeg, where his work focused on grain handling, transportation and risk management in Western Canada. He also works with Castle Currency Management, providing foreign exchange strategies and trade execution for both exporters and importers with foreign exchange exposure. De Pape is currently developing risk management tools and information systems for the post-single desk era. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Agriculture and a Master’s in Business Administration(Agribusiness), both from the University of Manitoba.

John Dewar, general manager, Cascadia Port Management Corp.

Julia Dunlop, grains and fields crops specialist, CFIA

Catherine Galay, manager, Food and Plant Safety, Parrish & Heimbecker Ltd. | Show Bio

Catherine Galay has worked for Parrish & Heimbecker, LTD (P&H) for 3.5 years. She started with P&H in the quality control laboratory and is now responsible for maintaining, developing and auditing the safety and food safety programs for 19 grain elevators, 3 crop input facilities and 2 transloading facilities across Western Canada. Prior to this, she worked for Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Galay has a bachelor degree from the University of Manitoba in Food Science.

Mark Hemmes, president, Quorum Corp. | Show Bio

Mark Hemmes is President of Quorum Corporation, an independent subsidiary of the Quorum Group of Companies, of which he is a founding partner. Based in Edmonton, Alberta, Quorum Corporation has been responsible for monitoring Canada’s Prairie Grain Handling and Transportation System since June 2001. Quorum reports to the Government and industry on changes in the efficiency, reliability, structure and operation of the grain handling and transportation system as well as the impacts these changes have on producers. Other areas of study include the movement of grain in containers, the role of inland container terminals in Western Canada in addition to the provision of analytical and research services for the review of rail freight service in 2008 and 2009 and an examination and assessment of the Canadian Grain Supply Chain in 2012. Prior to the inception of the Quorum Group, Hemmes spent 23 years in the Canadian rail industry where he held a variety of senior positions in the fields of marketing, intermodal, and operations. He attended the University of Alberta and the University of Western Ontario.

David Ladd, grains and field crop specialist, Policy and Programs Branch, CFIA | Show Bio

David has worked at the CFIA since 2007 in the Plant Health and Biosecurity Program with roles related to field crops, including variety registration, weed seed regulation, and plant biosafety (oversight of GM crops). Since 2010, he has been with the Grains and Oilseeds Section of the Plant Protection Division with active files mainly related to export. David’s main files include regaining market access for Canadian canary seed to Mexico; maintaining market access for wheat to Colombia, soybeans to Malaysia, and grains to Ecuador; maintaining market access for propagative seeds to Vietnam and grains to Panama and timeliness of phytosanitary certificate issuance.

Leigh Lamontagne, manager, grain quality control, Viterra | Show Bio

Leigh Lamontagne is a Manager, Grain Operations for Viterra, based in Regina, SK, Canada. He has 19 years of industry experience and currently works with Viterra’s country facilities on operational efficiencies, inventory management, and quality management. Prior to this role, Lamontagne managed Viterra’s Quality Control and Food Safety departments.

Jim McKerchar, director, country operations, Parrish & Heimbecker Ltd. | Show Bio

Jim McKerchar was raised on a mixed farm at Strathclair, MB, which he later ran as a partnership with his brother. He graduated from the University of Alberta with a B.Sc. (Ag). McKerchar has held senior marketing and operations positions with Cargill, United Oilseed Products, United Grain Growers, Dominion Malting, and currently is the Director of Country Operation- Western Division for Parrish & Heimbecker, Limited in Winnipeg. He sits on various industry committees involved in elevator operations, food safety, grain grading and transportation.

Walter Rubert, former Chief of Weighing, and Registrar, Canadian Grain Commission | Show Bio

Walter Rubert retired from the Canadian Grain Commission in 2015, after 23 years of service. He served as the head of the Canadian Grain Commission’s quantity assurance programs including the official weighing program, the scale inspection program and the registration and cancellation programs. During his time at the Canadian Grain Commission, Rubert’s responsibilities focused on providing end customers and grain buyers with a trusted quantity assurance regime for domestic and export grain shipment; he also authored the first edition of the Sampling System Handbook and Guide. Prior to joining the Canadian Grain Commission, Rubert held positions of increasing responsibility with Weights and Measures – Canada and attended college in Toronto.

Mohammad Torshizi, sessional lecturer, Department of Bioresource Policy, Business & Economics, University of Saskatchewan | Show Bio

Mohammad Torshizi is a professional research associate and a sessional lecturer at the department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, College of Agriculture and Bioresource, University of Saskatchewan. His persistent interest in helping farmers around the world motivated him to complete his B.Sc., M.Sc. and Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics with a focus on Agricultural Policy. He recently completed his Ph.D. dissertation on sequential innovation and hybrid seed pricing in the Canadian canola seed industry at University of Saskatchewan. Torshizi is a recipient of University of Saskatchewan 2012-2013 Teacher Scholar Doctoral Fellowship and North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture (NACTA) Graduate Student Teacher Award. He has taught Agribusiness Venture Management, Agricultural Policy, and Industrial Organization of Agricultural Markets. Torshizi’s research focuses on economics of crop innovation, grain transportation and handling, and agribusiness management.

The Course of Study

Lecture 1 – Crops, Weather and Trends

This lecture will provide an overview of Canada’s main grain and oilseeds crops, including durum wheat, barley, oats, canola, rye and flax. It will discuss when the crops are planted and harvested, where they’re grown, what the planting trends have been, and the dominant influence of a short growing season.
Lecturer: Mohammad Torshizi

Lecture 2 – Grain Production

Canada’s grain industry is shaped by unique circumstances, including vast areas of arable land and a relatively small population. How much grain and oilseeds does Canada produce? Where does it rank in grain production internationally? Lecture 2 will explore output of Canada’s main crops during the recent past.
Lecturer: Mohammad Torshizi

Lecture 3 – Going by Rail 

This three-part lecture explores grain-rail transportation — the predominant means of getting product from Prairies to ports.  Part I offers an overview of the main players, and discusses the interdependent but difficult relationship between railroads and grain shippers. Part II covers railway fundamentals, including railcar, track and locomotive types and functions, as well as the essential activities in the movement of cars and trains. Part III explores some of the main challenges facing grain shippers and railways in Canada, including geography and climate; the length of the haul from Prairie to port; and annual and seasonal fluctuations in volume, which add complexity to capacity planning. 
Lecturer: Mark Hemmes

Lecture 4 – To the Borders and Beyond

The grain is grown in the country’s interior, in the Prairie Provinces, but where does it go before export? Lecture 5 will discuss advantages and challenges presented by Canada’s key grain-export locations, including Vancouver, Prince Rupert, the St. Lawrence Seaway and Hudson Bay. We’ll then follow the trail to Canada’s largest grain-export markets, including the United States, but literally world-wide.
Lecturer: John Dewar

Lecture 5 – The Canadian International Grains Institute

This lesson will explore the Canadian International Grains Institute (CIGI). The CIGI, funded by farmers and the government, helps promote utilization of Canadian field crops internationally. 
Lecturer: Dave Burrows

Lecture 6 – Canada’s Grain Marketing System: New Horizons

From single-desk domination in wheat to a free-enterprise system, how Canada markets grain has changed rapidly in the last decade. This lecture will examine the demise of the Canadian Wheat Board, and how the marketing system works now. It will also discuss some of the advantages and challenges of hedging various grains and oilseeds in Canada.
Lecturer: John De Pape

Lecture 7 – Protecting Worker Safety and Health

Canada’s grain industry, like that of the U.S., has increasingly incorporated regulations designed to protect employees against the various hazards of working in or around grain facilities. This lecture will discuss Canada’s main safety-and-health agencies and what they govern. From farm to elevator to export, safety and health have become an integral part of doing business in Canada’s grain sector.
Lecturer: Catherine Galay

Lecture 8 – The Canada Grain Act and the Role of the Canadian Grain Commission

This historic legislation governs most parts of the Canadian grain industry. Lecture 8 will provide an overview of the Grain Act, what it covers, why it continues to have an overarching influence and how it is being modernized to improve grain quality and safety. The second part of the lecture will explain the role of the Canadian Grain Commission (CGC), which administers the Canada Grain Act by regulating grain handling and certifying the quality, safety and quantity of grain-export shipments.  It’s also Canada’s scientific research organization on grain quality.
Lecturer: Walter Rubert

Lecture 9 – The Canadian Food Inspection Agency

Lecture 8 will examine the roles of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). The CFIA, created in 1997, is tasked with preventing the introduction and spread of regulated pests of grains and field crops by establishing export and import directives.
Lecturers: David Ladd and Julia Dunlop

Lecture 10 – Quality Control and Climate

Canada’s climate affects not only what crops are grown, but how they’re handled, tested, fumigated, dried and cleaned. This lecture will investigate how these essential tasks are undertaken in Canada, and will include discussion of sieves, Boerner dividers, moisture-testing equipment and samplers. It will also discuss how test results and quality standards differ from those in the U.S. How do you dry grain at minus-30C?
Lecturer: Leigh Lamontagne

Lecture 11 – Grain Operations: Location and Functions

History, combined with climate and geography, have shaped Canada’s large, multi-faceted and export-oriented grain industry, arranging its pieces advantageously on the map.  This lecture will explore key influences that led to the four main types of Canadian grain facilities in operation today – primary, transfer and terminal elevators and processing plants — as well as their locations and functions.
Lecturer: Jim McKerchar