Iwould like to take this opportunity to introduce myself. My name is Garry Draper and my farm is located at Lenore, Man. My wife, Holly, and I have been married for 30 years and have two sons, Shaune and Michael. Both of our sons have bought farms, and together we farm 2,100 acres of wheat, barley, canola and flax, along with a 150 cow-calf operation.
Our wheat board has played a major positive role in grain farming in Western Canada.
Since the board’s inception, it has worked very hard, on our behalf, to build a reputation for our grain around the world. It is a reputation that we should be proud of and is of great value to us, as producers. It is a reputation that only a strong producer-controlled wheat board can continue on our behalf.
The dual-marketing experiment has failed in Australia. Single-desk boards that have been lost in countries around the world gave companies the full benefit from the markets and not the farmers. Why would we want to lose what our fathers and grandfathers worked so hard to gain and that is a single-desk selling authority that works solely on our behalf to return all the benefits from the marketplace back to us, the producer.
Our wheat board does much more than just sell our grain. It is our advocate on many fronts:
Managing and monitoring transportation costs;
Customer servicing and recruiting;
Branding our grain with customers both domestically and internationally;
Utilizing the Hudson Bay Route;
Advising our federal negotiators on our interests at the world trade talks;
Arranging producer cars. The wheat board is best positioned to be our advocates on these and any other issue we may face in the future. A strong progressive board is always gathering information from the grassroots level and with staff resources, makes informed decisions that benefit us.
The wheat board has evolved to meet our challenges, and under strong leadership will continue to work with us to meet those challenges in the future. The current producer payment options are examples of how the wheat board has changed to meet our needs. Many options have been added and adjusted to reflect market conditions and producer needs.
I have farmed for 32 years and now with my sons starting their farming careers, I fully understand the pressures we, as experienced farmers and young farmers, face.
The wheat board employs many people whose job it is to sell our grain. By spreading the sales over the whole year, we can constantly command a premium for our grain because of our quality and reliability. Sales can only be made if there is a buyer. If there is not enough demand, what benefit would there be in dumping grain on the market and lowering prices. The Americans have done that with their subsidy programs and we complain. We need to stay united to gain the best prices possible from the marketplace.
It is interesting to hear the constant complaint of the wheat board blocking value-added processing from coming to the West. The wheat board does not block any company that wants to set up a processing plant in Western Canada. The biggest stumbling block is that companies do not wish to deal with a single-desk board.
The provincial government took away the single-desk authority of the Manitoba hog-marketing board to entice Maple Leaf to locate in Manitoba. Companies would rather deal with individual farmers to lever a lower price. Companies have also failed in setting up value-added plants because of transportation costs, and coupled with a very low population base that we have on the Prairies. Sometimes it is cheaper to ship the raw product, process it and sell the finished product, in a more densely populated area.
There are some complaints, especially this year, of the low initial prices and the length of time to get interim raises into our hands. The wheat board has done all it can, but the final say comes from the federal government. The government has the final say in setting our initial prices and approving interim raises. It can amend the time requirement for the interim raises by changing legislation without tying it to a larger amendment. The government needs to stop playing politics with our money from the grain sales.
Even our federal agriculture minister said that we should band together and form co-operatives to get a better price when we purchase our farm inputs. Well, we have one to sell our grain, so let’s not lose what we have!
With your support, I would welcome the opportunity to be part of the team that works on behalf of all producers. Thank you.