Summary of the Evaluation of the Harvest Sample Program

The Canadian Grain Commission was established by the Canada Grain Act in 1912 as the federal government agency mandated to, “in the interests of producers, establish and maintain standards of quality for Canadian grain and regulate grain handling in Canada to, ensure a dependable commodity for domestic and export markets.”

The Harvest Sample Program has been administered by the Canadian Grain Commission since 1927. This program provides the Canadian Grain Commission with information on the processing and end-use quality of Canadian grains harvested each year. The Canadian Grain Commission uses these samples to develop visual grading standards, monitor and support the quality assurance system, and support grain research activities. Participating producers also receive an unofficial grade and quality information for each sample they submit.

The Harvest Sample Program runs from March to November each year. It has an annual budget of $750,000; however, actual program expenditures fluctuate depending on the number of samples received, the number and areas of special focus, and the cost of postage.

Final Report

This report presents the findings of the evaluation of the Harvest Sample Program.

Evaluation findings

Alignment with federal roles, responsibilities and priorities and Canadian Grain Commission strategic outcomes

The Harvest Sample Program’s activities and outputs:

  • support key legislated responsibilities of the Canadian Grain Commission
  • align with federal priorities and with the Canadian Grain Commission’s strategic outcome
  • support the Canadian Grain Commission’s organizational priorities

Continued need for the program

There is a significant continued need for the Harvest Sample Program. The samples obtained through the program are essential for supporting the objectives and activities of the Grain Quality Research Program and the Quality Assurance Program.

Complementarity and overlap with similar programs and initiatives

The Harvest Sample Program complements harvest surveys undertaken by other organizations in Canada. It does not duplicate or overlap other sources of grading and assessment in Canada such as the Canadian International Grains Institute (Cigi). Almost all external beneficiaries use the Canadian Grain Commission’s outputs in addition to other sources of harvest quality information.

Effectiveness in achieving intended outcomes

The Harvest Sample Program is successful in achieving its immediate and intermediate outcomes. It is effective in supporting the achievement of the Canadian Grain Commission’s strategic outcome.

Efficiency and economy

The Harvest Sample Program makes efficient use of staff and other resources. However, the cost of mailing sample kits to non-participating registered producers, many of whom have retired, relocated or are deceased, is negatively affecting the program’s efficiency.

Program design and delivery

The current program design is the most suitable based on the needs of the program’s beneficiaries. Transitioning the Harvest Sample Program to a fee-for-service program would result in very significant declines in producer participation, resulting in an inability to meet the internal needs of the Canadian Grain Commission and the needs of external program beneficiaries.


The evaluation found that the Harvest Sample Program achieves its objectives and is delivered in an efficient and cost-effective manner. Opportunities to enhance the program include:

  • continue promotion and marketing of the Harvest Sample Program in order to recruit new producers to submit harvest samples
  • examine possible enhancements to the type and format of quality information available to producers in order to increase participation in the program
  • assess the feasibility of enhancing communication with stakeholders to inform them of when updates to wheat harvest information are available
  • examine potential partnerships with organizations in eastern Canada to obtain alternative sources of harvest samples to address the low response rate among eastern producers
  • investigate the feasibility of a single comprehensive annual harvest quality report that combines the information produced by the Canadian Grain Commission and Cigi

Canadian Grain Commission management has developed management action plans in response to these recommendations.

About this evaluation

This report presents the results of the evaluation of the Harvest Sample Program for the period from April 1, 2010 to November 30, 2015. It was coordinated by the Canadian Grain Commission’s Audit and Evaluation Services and conducted by the consulting firm Ference & Company. This was the first program evaluation for the Canadian Grain Commission and the first evaluation of the Harvest Sample Program.

The Harvest Sample Program provides the quality assurance and grain quality research programs with an annual source of unblended producer samples. This maximizes the range of varieties, environmental factors, and quality characteristics of the samples. The annual harvest quality reports and information generated using the Harvest Sample Program samples also support the Canadian Grain Commission’s obligation to implement a grading system that supports the efficient marketing of grain within and outside of Canada.

The evaluation relied on multiple lines of evidence, including program, document, and literature reviews; interviews with key informants; and surveys with producers.

For more information about this evaluation and its findings, please consult the Evaluation of the Harvest Sample Program report and management action plans..

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