A Manitoba farmer is warning other growers to be on the lookout for thieves after about 1,600 bushels of canola were stolen from his property over the winter.
Mixed grain producer Les Wedderburn said he was out to turn the grain silos on his farm near Alexander, Manitoba on Dec. 15 when he noticed one was at half empty.
About 40 acres of canola were gone – a loss estimated by Wedderburn cost him about $40,000 of what he would have earned from selling the crops.
“It’s like losing a year’s salary, isn’t it?” he said. “It’s a bit of a kick in the pants, that’s for sure.”
Wedderburn said he heard his farm about 230 kilometers west of Winnipeg was not the only target.
Radio Midi Manitoba8:45Farmer has about 1,600 bushels of canola stolen from his property
“I have friends who lost grain last spring, canola. And I have another guy I just talked to who’s pretty sure he lost two loads last year,” did he declare.
“Canola is the most valuable right now, so it’s a pretty good target. If you bother to risk getting caught, you might as well have the expensive stuff.”
Manitoba RCMP spokesperson Sgt. Paul Manaigre said apart from the Wedderburn case, constables in the area have had only one other grain theft reported this year.
This farmer was in the Rural Municipality of Argyle area, a community about 165 kilometers southwest of Winnipeg, and believes about 2,000 bushels of wheat were stolen from a grain elevator on his property in mid-August last year, Manaigre said. The producer reported the theft on March 7.
But Manaigre said he was “curious to see if the stats change in a month as more farmers start checking their property and how it fared during the winter months”.
For Wedderburn, the burglary on his property came as a shock – not something he said he expected in the “confident” farming community.
But with many still struggling after last year’s drought and now facing rising costs for things like gas and fertiliser, he said he wondered if it could have been another grower who has stole her supplies to stay afloat.
“If you don’t fulfill your contract, you pay for it. So it wouldn’t surprise me if that’s what happened, it’s [that it was] someone who had a contract he couldn’t fulfill and just stole grain to fulfill it,” he said.
“I think there are a lot of injuries. I think there are a lot of guys who are going to be in a tough situation in the spring.”
Now Wedderburn said he is waiting to see if the police reveal anything in his case. In the meantime, he has put a serial number in his leftover grain and plans to install a camera security system on his property – and hopes other farmers will do the same.
And he hopes someone will provide information about what happened on his farm. Or, at the very least, that telling her story helps prevent it from happening to someone else.
“I may never get any of mine back, but maybe we can stop these guys,” he said.
“I don’t think these people are acting alone. So it will come out sooner or later, I think.”