economicsJay Leslie

Organic Grain Marketing: Part 3 - Logistics

economicsJay Leslie
Organic Grain Marketing: Part 3 - Logistics

The logistics costs involved in getting organic grain from farms to markets are astronomical. Conventional grain crops grown in western Canada can usually be trucked to an elevator within an hour of the farm. Organic crops can easily spend 8-12 hours in a truck before they find a market.

Often this journey takes a stop at a third-party cleaning and processing plant, to remove dockage and load the grain into a bag, tote or container. The cleaned grain might then go back to the farm to be sold as cleaned and bagged at a higher price. Alternatively, some buyers purchase grain ‘farmer-dressed’ or ‘non-commercially cleaned’, send it for processing themselves, then re-sell it to their next-use market. More often than is the case for conventional grain, dockage on organic grain may be held aside by the cleaning plant allowing the owner to take it home or market it as organic feed.

Any time organic grain is being shipped in bulk, the seller is responsible for preserving quality and integrity until it arrives at the final destination, even when rail cars or a third-party commercial trucking company are used. Truckers are expected to show wash certificates to the farmer before they load organic grain from the bin, but this does not guarantee that the insides of the trailers are clean. Upon inspection, if the farmer sees kernels from the previous load caught in crevices inside the trailer, they must consider turning the truck away or getting it cleaned themselves. The cost of doing so plus the hassle is likely still far less than the costs involved in having the load rejected at delivery.

Producer cars are starting to come into use in shipping organic grain crops in bulk, but here again lies a risk of the railcars not being clean enough, which the farmer can’t control or predict ahead of ordering. Still, there is a substantial cost savings to using producer cars on long hauls versus trucks and containers.

More and more, Prairie farmers are getting to know buyers of organic crops within North America and across Canada. Thanks to technology and increasingly sophisticated farm marketing practices, modern organic farmers have been telling their stories to a growing network beyond western Canada. Coupled with new logistics efficiencies and better ways to build business relationships, modern organic farmers are adding value simply through direct selling to their food company and consumer customers.

Jay Leslie was born and raised in the central prairie city of Portage La Prairie. Growing up in the prairies with small-town values helped shape his character into the person he is today. Described as a creative leader, with an extroverted personality, Jay has never been one to shy away from challenge or adventure. After graduating as class valedictorian from Arthur Meighen High School, he went on to study advertising, design and communications at Red River College; graduating in 2006 with a post-diploma in Advanced Graphic Design. After school, Jay cut his teeth working in a small design boutique in Winnipeg’s St. Boniface neighborhood, and gained valuable experience in design and project management. In the winter of 2007, he landed a design position with a world-class company, National Leasing. A position which has allowed him to develop an extremely well-rounded skill set in not only design, but also business and marketing management. Through years of growth and hands-on experience, Jay grew to become Marketing Manager; specializing in business-to-business marketing, targeting multiple industries across Canada. He continues to build his career while also maintaining a design consultancy. A proud Winnipeger, Jay Leslie resides in the heart of Osborne Village with his girlfriend and their rabbit, Buns. In the spare time Jay has, he lives to snowboard, loves to golf, and makes time to stay active. Above all Jay values family and friendship, and gains a sense of pride from the outstanding people in his community.