Cargill has announced it has become the first grain handler to enter into a strategic alliance with the newly formatted Canadian Wheat Board.

The Winnipeg company says that will enable the wheat board to offer its full range of products, grain pricing pools and services to farmers and end-use customers.

``We are very pleased that Cargill, as a forward-looking company in the western Canadian grain industry, has become the CWB's first handling partner,'' said wheat board president Ian White.

``We can now move ahead to provide farmers with an exciting package of programs they can use with confidence in this new era.''

Two weeks ago, a Manitoba judge threw out a bid to suspend a new federal law ending the wheat board's monopoly on western grain sales.

Eight former board directors had asked for an injunction to stop the law's implementation until a court rules on its validity, but Justice Shane Perlmutter said the directors didn't prove their case.

The former directors had argued the law isn't valid because the federal government didn't hold a referendum among producers before ending the monopoly. They also suggested changes to the wheat board would hurt western Canadian farmers.

On Thursday, Cargill said it believes the new agreement will better assist Western Canadian growers in moving forward with their grain marketing decisions.

``Every grower's needs are unique, which is why Cargill offers a broad range of grain marketing and risk management solutions,'' said Cargill spokesman Peter Rowe.