The Canadian Wheat Board has filed a lawsuit against ConAgra Foods alleging the US-based food company illegally exported Canadian grain.

The CWB has a monopoly on wheat and barley sales to millers, maltsters and export markets from Western Canada. Under federal laws, grain companies and farmers can export wheat and barley only with a licence from the CWB and they must report shipments to customs in Canada, reported Reuters.

The grain company claims ConAgra, through its subsidiaries, sold grain to a broker in Quebec, who is then alleged to have sold it on to ConAgra’s US operations.

CWB spokeswoman, Louise Waldman, said the alleged incident involves an estimated 27,000 tonnes of wheat first sold in 1997.

Canada Customs and Revenue Agency reviewed the case but concluded that charges under its legislation were not warranted, Waldman said, adding that the CWB decided to pursue a civil case to try to collect revenues it believes it is owed.

A spokesman for Omaha, Nebraska-based ConAgra Foods, said: “We work with the Canadian Wheat Board all the time as both an agent and customer of theirs, so we were surprised when we learned of the action they brought against us.”

“We believe the allegations in their suit are meritless and we will defend ourselves accordingly,” he was quoted by Reuters as saying.